What You Need to Know About Heart Surgery
How do you determine if surgery is right for a patient with a heart condition?
Before we recommend heart surgery, we make sure that all other alternatives, such as medications, lifestyle changes and other therapies have been considered. There is always some risk with surgery and this varies by patient. However, with the advancement in heart surgery techniques, options have increased, especially for minimally invasive surgery, and the risks are much lower.
When surgery is an option, what are some of the considerations you discuss with patients?
If surgery is the best option for the patient, we always inform them of the risks associated with the procedure. No surgery is risk-free, so both our medical team and the patient need to be as transparent as possible when discussing the procedure. We always make sure the patient knows what to expect from the moment they arrive. We talk to the patient and family to make sure they understand the procedure, how to prepare, what the recovery will be like and any follow-up that is needed.
How important is follow-up care after surgery to a healthy recovery?
Follow-up care is extremely important for any surgical procedure, especially cardiac surgery. Usually the first 48 hours following surgery are the most difficult, and it generally takes one to three months for a patient to fully recuperate from the procedure. We try to stress that patients shouldn’t get down on themselves for not being back up to full speed right away. Healing properly takes time. Sometimes the best thing you can do to help yourself heal is to take it slow and steadily increase your workload each day post-surgery, in order to help regain strength and energy.
How does recovering from a heart procedure differ from other types of surgery?
Once you have a heart procedure, it’s important to remember to refrain from or increase certain activities, as to not cause further damage or complications involving your heart and to help it heal. Things you may want to remember, include:
Refraining from smoking and having minimal exposure to second-hand smoke
Controlling your blood pressure, sometimes through medication
Trying to reduce fat and cholesterol in your diet
Making an effort to exercise regularly
Managing your weight
Being in control of your blood sugar and diabetes (if you have it)
What advice do you give to patients about pain management after surgery?