Heart Surgery USA - Post-Op Info
General Post-Operative Instructions. Here are some that stood out as immediate and long-term concerns:
  • While the sternum (breastbone) is healing, avoid lifting greater than 10 pounds, or pushing/pulling activities with your arms. The breastbone takes about 6-8 weeks to heal generally.
  • Showers are permitted but tub baths are discouraged for 4-6 weeks or until your incisions are healed. Avoid extremely hot water which may cause you to feel dizzy or weak. You may gently wash (don't rub) your incision with soap. Do not use creams or lotions on incisions until they are healed.
  • Do not cross your legs while lying in bed or sitting. This puts pressure on the veins under the knees and slows blood flow. If your legs or feet swell, you should put them on a chair or stool while sitting.
  • Avoid isometrics : straining to move your bowels, pushing/pulling heavy objects, or working with your arms overhead. These activities disproportionately elevate blood pressure and put an added strain on a healing heart.
  • It is important to space and pace your activities to minimize fatigue. If you feel tired, STOP, and rest for a while. Don't push yourself to finish a task.
  • Stair climbing is not discouraged. Avoid pulling yourself up with a handrail, and go slowly.
  • Use your elastic stockings during the day and remove them at night. You should wear the stockings for at least 2 weeks after discharge or more if your ankles are still swollen. The stockings aid blood flow and help reduce swelling in the legs. It is easiest to put the stockings on before you get out of bed in the morning for the day, however most people put them on after a morning shower. They should fit snugly.
  • Your may notice a swelling or lump at the top of your chest incision which could take several months to disappear.
  • Most patients experience incisional discomfort in the sternum. This discomfort will decrease in time, but may reoccur when there is as an adverse change in the weather or when you overextend yourself. Do not hesitate to use pain relieving medication as you need it.
  • Take your temperature every morning for one week after discharge. Notify your physician if your temperature stays above 100 degrees F for more than a day.
  • Check your weight every morning for the first two weeks. If you notice a sudden weight gain, notify your physician.
  • When you are upset, your heart works harder. It is best to anticipate and avoid situations, people, or topics of conversation that make you tense or angry.
  • Keep a record of your medications and medical history with you when traveling.

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Dropping Hemoglobin - Anemia
Anemia (low hemoglobin) can be caused by many things, but the three main bodily mechanisms that produce it are: excessive destruction of RBCs, blood loss, inadequate production of RBCs.

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