Recovering After Open Heart Surgery

    Glenn Smith 24 Aug

    Open Heart Surgery Recovery

    Recovering After Open Heart Surgery

    Many people have open heart surgery every year. Although it is a life-saving technique used to repair or replace arteries, repair damages to the heart, implant medical devices, or even replace the heart with a donor heart, it is a major operation that requires the chest to be opened and for a machine to take over the actions of the heart so the muscle can remain still for the surgeon to work. Naturally, this requires a recovery process that can take a few weeks or even months after your time in the hospital.

    WebMD outlines several aspects to the open heart surgery recovery process:

    Wound Care

    A doctor can explain how to care for the wound; in general, it must be kept dry and clean. Rehabilitation specialists can perform the required cleaning and monitoring for you, so you don't have to worry about whether or not you're getting it right. They will recognize a separation in the wound and know when drainage is excessive, and they can help you get the correct care if you run a fever or experience a popping sound in your breast bone when you move.

    Pain Relief

    A prescription for pain medication will help you manage most of it. Exercise can diminish the stiffness and soreness that can be common if your surgeon needed your leg veins as grafts in a heart bypass surgery. The skilled therapists at an open heart surgery recovery facility can help you develop an appropriate exercise routine that will aid your recovery without straining your recently repaired heart.


    Your rehabilitation team can help you identify appropriate activity and slowly increase the intensity and duration according to your health and progress. Therapists also offer motivation and encouragement to stick with the process, which can be challenging after a few weeks. 


    A healthy diet is key to staying well and recovering from open heart surgery or any other operation or illness. Rehabilitation specialists can help you choose the right foods and develop a plan for you to follow, so you don't have any of those days when you run out of groceries or when you think, "I don't know what to make!" For inpatients, you don't need to think about meals at all! It's all taken care of for you.

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    Emotional Well-Being

    Recovering from open heart surgery requires you to slow down. For several weeks, you might not be able to live the lifestyle you were used to, since you might be experiencing some discomfort and you won't be able to drive, lift heavy objects, or stand in one place for more than 15 minutes. This can take a toll on your emotions, which is natural, but by knowing it could happen, you can take some steps to overcome it.

    Talk with your rehabilitation therapists about how you feel. They can offer support and advice on ways to boost your morale, including short visits with friends, hobbies, and funny movies. Simply being a part of the rehab program in a heart surgery recovery facility puts you in a positive, encouraging environment surrounded by caring, compassionate professionals and other people who are going through similar medical experiences.


    Sleeping can be challenging for some people after surgery. However, not getting enough sleep can result in irritability, apathy, and impaired memory, which won't help you in your recovery process. Your rehabilitation specialists can offer guidance on developing a routine that helps you get a good night's rest. In an inpatient experience, therapists can help you avoid daytime napping that could interfere with nighttime sleeping, and the routine of the facility can help develop a positive sleep routine, as well.

    In many cases, you or a loved one can perform some of the post-surgery care, but if you are unable to do so, an inpatient rehabilitation facility might provide the solution. Even as an outpatient, having the assistance of professionals at a rehab facility can help you speed recovery and avoid setbacks. At Church Home, our goal is to help you achieve the best recovery outcome in the least amount of time with the latest technology and compassionate caregivers. Contact us if we can help you determine whether inpatient or outpatient recovery is best for you, or to help you start your open heart surgery recovery process.


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