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Open Heart Surgery Discharge Information

This information has been prepared to assist you and your family with understanding discharge instructions following open heart surgery.

What to Expect After Open Heart Surgery
What to Do You Need After Your Open Heart Surgery
Medications After Your Open Heart Surgery
Care For Your Incision After Your Open Heart Surgery
Diet Tips After Your Open Heart Surgery
Restrictions and Activities After Your Open Heart Surgery
Coughing and Deep Breathing After Your Open Heart Surgery
Important Reminders After Your Open Heart Surgery



What to Expect After Open Heart Surgery

Written teaching materials and a video will be presented to you and your family prior to going home or to a rehabilitation center. To meet with a Cardiovascular Patient Educator, you may call 740-687-8261.

What to Do You Need After Your Open Heart Surgery

Antibacterial, mild, fragrance-free soap, such as Dial

4 ounce bottle of Chlorohexidine Gluconate soap (Hibiclens)

Scale

Thermometer

Support stockings (TEDS)

Gait belt (optional)

Gauze and tape (if wounds draining)

Medications After Your Open Heart Surgery

It is important to take medications EXACTLY as prescribed. During the first four weeks of recovery, DO NOT ADD OR DELETE ANY MEDICATIONS without checking with Dr. Norberto or Dr. Cohen. After the fourth week, you may refer any questions to your cardiologist or primary care practitioner.

Take your pain medication as needed. Take the pain medication with food to prevent nausea.

Some medications cause constipation. To avoid this side effect, you will need to drink plenty of fluids and increase the fiber in your diet. A daily stool softener may be necessary for several weeks while at home.

Care For Your Incision After Your Open Heart Surgery

All your incision sites may be left open to air. However, if sites are draining, apply a small dry dressing over the sites. Change dressing daily and as needed.

SHOWER daily. While showering, wash sites gently using soap and water. Rinse and gently dry. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, use Chlorohexidine Gluconate (Hibiclens©) soap. On the other days, wash incisions with an antibacterial, mild, fragrance-free soap (for example: Dial©).

NO TUB BATHING. No sitting or soaking in a whirlpool or jacuzzi for a minimum of four weeks. No swimming for a minimum of four weeks.

No ointments, lotions, or cream on or near incision sites.

Remove steri-strips from incisions in one week from discharge.

Diet Tips After Your Open Heart Surgery

Drink plenty of water.

Increase fiber.

Avoid sweets.

Choose healthy foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, skinless baked/broiled chicken, baked/broiled fish, whole grains.

Avoid skin on chicken, shell fish, and fried foods. Limit red meat.

Avoid hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats. Instead choose heart healthy fats such as olive, peanut, canola, saffower, and/or sunflower oils.

Restrictions and Activities After Your Open Heart Surgery

WALK, WALK, WALK!Walking is key to a recovery free of complications.

Do not cross your legs while lying in bed or sitting. If your legs or feet swell, you should elevate them above hip level.

Stair climbing is not discouraged. Avoid pulling yourself up using the hand railing. Use hand rails only to steady yourself.

Take your time. Dr. Norberto and Dr. Cohen will recommend time off work. It may be necessary to be off work for 4-12 weeks.

No pushing/pulling for four weeks.

No lifting more than 10 pounds for the first four weeks. No lifting more than 20 pounds for weeks 4-8

No driving for four weeks.

No reaching above your head for four weeks.

Splint your chest with the heart pillow when deep breathing, coughing and getting in/out of chairs or bed for a minimum of four weeks.

Pace your activity. Walk 3-4 times per day. If it is below 30 degrees or above 80 degrees, walk indoors. You may walk at the mall, store, church, or school.

Sexual activity is permitted. Start out with holding and kissing, progress slowly. Avoid sex if you are fatigued or in discomfort. Be sure to maintain upper body restrictions (sternal precautions).

Be sure to begin cardiac rehabilitation within 6 weeks of your surgery. For more information, you may call 740-687-8174.

If you had valve surgery, tell any doctor or dentist who treats you that you have had your valve repaired. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics before procedures, especially dental work, to prevent infection in your heart.

Coughing and Deep Breathing After Your Open Heart Surgery

Splint your chest with your heart pillow when coughing and deep breathing.

Use your Incentive Spirometry or Voldyne often throughout the day. Breath deeply in,hold for 5-10 seconds, exhale slowly, and follow with a forceful cough. Repeat 10 times.

This should be done every 1-2 hours while awake for a minimum of four weeks or until activity level returns to normal.

Important Reminders After Your Open Heart Surgery

Shower daily.

Weigh yourself daily.

Maintain upper body restrictions (sternal precautions).

Check your temperature at least once a day before eating and drinking.

NO SMOKING! Information on how to quit tobacco is available.

Wear TEDS hose every day during the day. You may take hose off at night. You will need help putting the hose on and taking it off.

If you are diabetic, be sure to check your glucose or blood sugar level as instructed.

Be sure to begin cardiac rehabilitation within 4-6 weeks of your surgery.