When the chest has to be cut open so that surgery can be performed on the muscles, arteries, valves, or any other part of the heart, it is called open heart surgery. While this might sound like a scary procedure to go through, it is actually very common. In fact, in the United States, thousands of these types of operations are performed each year. The coronary bypass procedure is one of the most common types of heart surgeries, with about 500,000 patients undergoing this operation every year.
If you are going to need open heart surgery, there are some questions you might have. Here are the answers to three frequently asked questions when it comes to open heart surgery.
1. How Long Will It Take For Me To Recover?
Even though open heart surgery is a major procedure, most patients only have to stay in the hospital for about three to five days after a short stay in the intensive care unit (ICU). It's at home that the real recovery begins. The total recovery time varies from person to person, but typically it takes about six weeks.
2. What Are Some Primary Concerns After Having Surgery?
One of the biggest concerns following open heart surgery is getting an infection, which can take place in your incision. If you have any of the following symptoms, it could indicate an infection:
- Rapid heart rate
- Pain in the area surrounding the incision
- Bleeding from the incision
To help prevent an infection, it's important to clean your incision and change any bandages as necessary. If you notice a problem with your incision, you may need to be seen by someone who specializes in wound care services.
3. What Are Some Other Things I'll Need to Do Following Surgery?
It's very important to go to your follow-up appointment with your doctor after having surgery. You should also be sure to take any prescribed medications and keep taking them until your doctor says it's okay to stop. Your doctor will also let you know when it's safe to resume other types of activities, such as driving a car, lifting heavy objects, and going back to work.
It might also be recommended for you to get involved in a cardiac rehabilitation program. This will allow you to safely increase your activity levels under the supervision of a physician. Cardiac rehabilitation is also a great way to learn how to take good care of your body, including what kinds of heart-healthy foods you should be eating.