Going Home After Heart Sugery
This handout is a quick review of things you need to know about caring for yourself at home. If you have questions, please let us know.
Medicines: A pharmacist will talk with you about your medicines and when to
take them once you are home.
____ Low sodium (salt), low cholesterol
____ Constant carbohydrates
____ No added salt
- Increase your activity (walking) as you are able.
- Keep your legs up when you are sitting down until the swelling goes away.
- Do not lift greater than 8 pounds (1 gallon milk) for 6 weeks.
- Start driving when cleared by your surgeon.
- Talk with your doctor at your clinic visit about when you might return to work.
Daily Self-Checks - Record your results on your Daily Vital Sign Record.
- Pulse (heart) rate – 60-100 beats per minute is normal.
- Weight– check the same time each day.
- Blood Pressure
- Incision and chest tube sites – check for signs of infection (redness, swelling, tenderness, foul smelling drainage, fever).
- Shower daily with your back to the stream. Use fragrance-free soap. Pat the incision dry. Do not take hot showers or baths.
- Keep your wounds clean and dry. Do not put ointments, powders or lotions on your incision.
- Yourincision is closed with a skin adhesive to keep it closed. Do not rub it. It will wear off in time.
- Keep your chest tube sites open to air unless they are draining. If they are draining, cover them with dry gauze in the morning after you shower and again in the evening.
- Staples and chest tube sutures should be removed in 2-3 weeks. Please call the doctor’s office if a clinic visit has not been scheduled.
It is normal to have incision pain. Take your pain medicines as needed.
When and Who to Call for Help
- Call 911 if you:
- Have chest pain that is different than your incisional pain or seems like a recurrence of your angina
- Have severe shortness of breath.
- Are fainting or feel like you are going to faint.
- Have a fast irregular heartbeat while at rest for 10 minutes.
- Are found unconscious.
- Call your doctor if you have:
- Heart rate less than _____ or greater than _____.
- Temperature greater than 101°F.
- Weight gain of 2-3 pounds in 1-2 days.
- Signs of infection (redness, increased tenderness around the incision, increased or pus-like drainage from the incision).
On weekdays 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., call the Cardiology Clinic at (608) 263-1530.
After hours and on weekends, call (608) 262-0496. This will give you the paging operator. Ask for the cardiac surgery resident on call. Leave your name and phone number with the area code. The doctor will call you back.
If you live out of the area, please call 1-800-323-8942 to reach the paging operator.
| Special Instructions
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 03/28/2013
Copyright © 04/23/2010 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#5802
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