How long do I need to have someone at home with me?
Patients commonly do not require 24 hour care but someone should be with you portions of each day to assist you. Keep visitors to a minimum and avoid coming into contact
with persons who have colds or flu for at least the first two weeks after you return.
If I have problems after my surgery, who do I call?
If you have any problems with your wounds it is very important to call your surgeon as soon as possible. If you feel that you may have problems that might be related to your heart
(example: rapid heart beat) you should call your cardiologist. If you have other medical problems you might want to call your family doctor.
When will I be able to go back to work?
Patients are commonly off from work about 3 months but that can change depending on what kind of work you do and the flexibility of your job. Patients who can work part time and have
desk jobs or can return with light duty can commonly return to work earlier.
Who will fill out the work release form?
Your surgeon's office will do that for you.
What are my limitations?
How much will I be able to lift?
No lifting more than 10 pounds (a gallon of milk weighs 8 pounds) for 1-3 months.
When can I drive a vehicle?
Please do not operate a motorized vehicle for 1 month. It is important not to sit directly behind an airbag for 1 month as well. It is always important to use a seatbelt.
Can I walk upstairs?
Yes, prior to discharge from the hospital, the nurses from cardiac rehab can work with you on the steps.
Can I exercise?
Yes, prior to your discharge, the Cardiac rehab nurses will start you on a walking program. It is an excellent idea to continue walking when you go home. A "Progressive Walking"
program works well. You should start with 5 minutes of "start to finish" walking the first day, and increase at least 1 minute each day until you are able to walk a 30 minute session
When can I have sex?
Unless your doctor advises otherwise, you can resume having sexual activity as soon as you feel comfortable. Try to avoid positions that put weight on you breastbone or upper arms.
Can I take a shower?
You may shower as soon as you feel strong enough to do so. The use of a sturdy "shower" chair is beneficial for a short time. Please use the liquid dial soap to wash your incisions.
Will I be able to go on an airplane?
You will be able to fly on an airplane when you are up to it in probably 3-4 weeks. You might visit your doctor before making long trips.
Will I make the metal detector go off?
Since 9/11 it is possible that the metal detector will alarm.
Will I be able to go out in extreme temperatures?
It is a good practice to avoid going outside in extreme temperatures.
Will I be on the same medications?
Your medications may change. A list of your medications will be reviewed and your doctor and nurse will provide you with instructions and a written medication schedule for home use.
What about blood thinners?
Most patients are on an aspirin every day but it is not uncommon that patients take other blood thinners as well.
Will I need a special bed after surgery?
It is rare that a patient needs a special bed. A recliner is often helpful because it is sometimes difficult to get out of bed and it allows you to easily elevate your legs.
Will I have pain?
A successful recovery depends on your being comfortable enough to cough and breathe deeply and participate in cardiac rehabilitation activities.
How can I control my pain?
During you hospitalization when the breathing tube is no longer in place you should ask for pain medication whenever you need it. You will be given a prescription for pain medications
when you are discharged that you can take every 4-6 hours as you need it.
How long will I need to take pain medication?
As long as you have pain. Commonly you will need pain medications early in your recovery process. As time goes by you will need less. Usually within 3-4 weeks you will need little
Should I use the Heart-Hugger?
Yes, it is extremely helpful in supporting your chest and your incision while you heal.
What if I have to cough?
If you need to cough hold the two "handles" of your heart hugger to support your chest. If you do not have your heart hugger you can hug your chest by crossing your arms and grabbing your
elbows (you always have your elbows).
How long will I need the Heart-Hugger?
Usually 4 weeks but you can wear it longer if you need to.
How long must I wear special stockings?
Usually 4 weeks or at least as long as you have swelling in you legs.
Do I need to take cardiac rehab after discharge?
Cardiac rehab is highly recommended.
What do they do in cardiac rehab?
All patients are physician referred and are individually evaluated for a baseline activity level and target heart rate. The goal is to provide a safe; heart monitored and medically
supervised exercise program tailored specifically to each patient's needs. The exercise and educational workshops are held in the outpatient department of Cardiac Wellness and
Rehabilitation here at Kettering, on the ground floor of the Physician's Office Building.
How often must I go to Cardiac Rehab?
The first session is scheduled for you on a Tuesday or Thursday for your initial evaluation, then your program is generally set up for 2-3 times per week, up to a maximum of 12 weeks.
The sessions generally last about 45 minutes.
Can I go to one close to home?
Absolutely! Patients are strongly encouraged to attend a program that is convenient for them- we are just one of their options.
May I use my treadmill and stationary bike at home instead?
Our program provides guidelines for patients to follow safely at first, and we offer telemetry monitoring, and blood pressure checks with exercise, to also determine each patient's
responses to exercise. Your cardiologist may give you some general home exercise guidelines to start, but it is recommended that you are monitored at first.
Will insurance pay for cardiac rehab?
Most insurance plans will cover a portion of the costs for cardiac rehab. It is recommended that each patient contact their carrier for coverage and eligibility, prior to beginning
any outpatient services. We also have financial counselors on staff to assist our patients with payment arrangements, possible discounts, etc. so please let us know if you have questions.
Who must order cardiac rehab?
All patients who attend cardiac rehabilitation must be physician referred, the physician's cardiologist is preferred as we interface with the cardiologist on the patient's plan of care.
When should I worry about an increased temperature?
A temperature of 100 degrees for more than 2 days should be reported to your physician.
What kind of food will I be able to eat?
You should be able to eat you usual heart healthy diet when you get home.
When do I need to see the surgeon or cardiologist again?
Commonly you see the cardiologist in 1 or 2 weeks and the surgeon in 2-4 weeks after you go home. The information should be in your discharge instructions.
How long will it take the incision to heal?
Patients are all different but it should look healed in 4weeks.
How long will I have to stay at home?
You will probably be ready to get out within the first week. Plan your first time out at a time when you can avoid crowds. Your comfort level should improve and you should be able to
get out more after the second week.
How can I arrange for a visiting nurse?
While you are in the hospital the social worker can arrange a visiting nurse for you. If you go home and find that you need help, call your doctor's office and they can help you
arrange for a visiting nurse.
What does a visiting nurse do?
A visiting nurse can assess and monitor your progress after your hospitalization. Home care nurses (visiting nurses) can also teach any dressing changes, draw lab work and monitor
any medication as needed.
How much would a visiting nurse cost? Will insurance cover it?
There is no cost for visiting nurses for Medicare patients. There may be a cost if you have private insurance it would depend on your specific plan coverage for out-patient services.
Is a visiting nurse able to draw blood?
Yes a nurse can draw your blood.
Is a heart attack likely if my chest hurts after surgery?
If you experience pain that feels like your heart pain (the pain you had before your surgery) it is important to call your doctor. Hopefully you can tell the difference between the pain
you are having that is a result of your surgery and heart pain. If you are unsure call your doctor.
If I have trouble breathing after surgery I should...?
Call your doctor if it is mild. If you have a more severe problem with breathing go to the emergency room.
If my heart pounds or beats differently I should...?
Call your cardiologist.
What if I become dizzy and lightheaded?
It is not uncommon to feel lightheaded when you first get out of bed; take your time and sit at the bedside before you get up. If symptoms persist call your doctor.
What should my wound look like?
Your wound should continue to heal. Commonly there is slight redness along the incision line. That should fade. There may be scabbing along the wound edges which should heal and fall off.
How do I take care of my wound after surgery?
Wash your wound with soap and water every day.
If my wound is not healing who should I contact?
Contact your surgeon's office as soon as you have any questions regarding the wound. Your surgeon should be notified immediately if you have any increased redness, drainage or
Will I be on blood thinners?
Patients who have mechanical heart valves will need blood thinners. Other patients due to irregular heart rhythms or problems unrelated to the surgery may need may need them as well.
Your doctor and nurse will instruct you at the time you are discharged from the hospital if blood thinners are needed.
For how long will I be on blood thinners?
Some patients with mechanical heart valves will need coumadin for the rest of their lives. Other patients may need it for 3-6 months. Your physician will make the appropriate
recommendation before you are discharged.
How often will I need to have my blood drawn?
Usually you will need a blood test weekly at first. Eventually as your dose is determined blood tests can be done monthly.
What complications do I need to watch for?
Watch for any unusual signs of bleeding or increased bruising. It is common that it will take longer to stop an accidental cut from bleeding. It is important to be very careful with
shaving and using sharp objects.
What's an Incentive Spirometer; When should I use it?
The Incentive Spirometer is the "breathing exerciser" that was provided to you after the surgery was accomplished. You should use it 10 times every hour while you are awake especially
when you are sedentary. As your activity level increases you can use it less frequently.
How will I feel emotionally before and after surgery?
It is very natural to feel nervous about surgery-but a positive attitude can help. It's your best prescription for a speedy recovery after surgery. The better prepared you are, the more
relaxed you will be. So, be sure to discuss your questions and concerns with your doctor.
Most patients respond after surgery in like manner as prior to surgery. However some medications and anesthesia can effect patient's emotions. A small percentage of patients experience
some anxiety or depressions for a short period after surgery. It is good to discuss all aspects of your recovery with you doctor. Medications and support are available to help you transition
through this time.