How to recover from heart surgery

Follow these guidelines on your road back to health from a cardiac event.

25 June 2015
by Bridget McNulty

Recovering from heart surgery depends on the patient, but is usually not a long process. Patients are usually discharged on day six or seven and can be independent in attending to their personal needs and mobility as early as that.

However, it takes three months for the breastbone to return to its original strength, and weaker patients may require a caretaker for up to six weeks or so. It’s important to bear in mind that as well as the physical aspect to recovery, there’s often also an emotional and psychological component – seek help from a therapist if you're struggling to cope.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation of South Africa (HFSA) has a number of suggestions to make recovery as successful as possible:

  • Gradually increase activity post-surgery
  • Household chores can be done, but standing in one place longer than 15 minutes is not recommended
  • No lifting objects that weigh more than five kilograms
  • No pushing or pulling of heavy objects
  • Daily walks, following doctor’s guidelines
  • But no driving for the first month.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation SA has a support group called Mended Hearts that supports patients who have had a cardiac event. There are also various other support groups and cardiac rehabilitation programmes available nationally that patients and caregivers can join to meet other survivors. For more information visit www.heartfoundation.co.za

Heart attack SOS

These are the most common symptoms of a heart attack, according to the HSFSA. Watch out for the following, but be aware that symptoms do vary from person to person:

  • Heavy pressure, tightness, crushing pain or unusual discomfort in the centre of the chest. This may last for more than 15 minutes (it may stop or weaken and then return)
  • Sweating, sickness, faintness or shortness of breath
  • A rapid, weak pulse
  • Both men and women typically experience a feeling of heavy pressure, tightness or discomfort in the chest – sometimes spreading to the neck, jaw and arms
  • Excessive sweating and nausea are also common symptoms.

If you or your loved one experience any of the symptoms of a heart attack:

  • Call for help, even if you’re not sure it’s a heart attack. Dial 10177 (from a landline) or 112 (from a cell phone)
  • Get the patient comfortable (semi-sitting, loosen tight clothing)
  • Reduce their anxiety by speaking calmly to them
  • If they become unconscious, place them on their side in the recovery position
  • If the victim stops breathing, or goes into cardio-respiratory arrest, start CPR immediately.

How Clicks Clinics can help you

Clicks Clinics will help you prevent or manage heart disease with their wide range of screening tests. These include:

  • Blood Pressure (BP) Test
  • Cholesterol Testing and Consultation
  • Lipogram Blood Test (to determine different types of cholesterol)
  • Clicks Full Basic Screening (BP, Body Mass Index or BMI, meal guide and exercise plan)
  • Clicks Screening Measurements only (BP and BMI)
  • Clicks Comprehensive Screening (BP, BMI, Glucose and Cholesterol screening, plus meal and exercise plan)

To make an appointment at a Clicks Clinic, call 0860 254 257 or visit Clicks Clinics online.

IMAGE CREDIT: 123rf.com

Read More: Heart Disease Super Section