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What Happens When You Need Open Heart Surgery?

You have just been told by your doctor that you need open heart surgery, what happens now? It may have started with nausea, arm pain or a tingle in the jaw, or a crushing chest pain that landed you in the emergency room. It's even possible that it could be an EKG reading at the doctors office that alerts you to your heart problem.

As the leading cause of death for Americans, heart disease can show up in many ways. Not every person who has heart disease will require open heart surgery, however your cardiologist may recommend it for you.

Open heart surgery is used to correct various heart conditions that might otherwise kill you. The procedures to correct defective heart valves are; repair aneurysms, bypass arteries, implant stents and in most critical cases replace the heart with a new on.

The diagnosis of open heart surgery can be terrifying and you may experience depression, stress, anxiety and anger. If you need open heart surgery here are some things to expect and prepare for:

  • Before surgery you will undergo a preoperative interview and testing.

  • The anesthesiologist will visit with you to discuss the anesthesia process.

  • You will most likely meet with the Surgeon to discuss the plan and the risks.

During surgery, you are connected to cardiopulmonary bypass, or a heart-lung machine. This machine keeps your blood circulating. Your anesthesiologist starts an IV, puts you to sleep, places a breathing tube in and then monitors your heart's function by viewing images of your heart from inside your esophagus.

After surgery you will awaken in the cardiovascular intensive care unit. You will have tubes and wires attached to you and you will be heavily medicated. Conversations with family members may not be remembered due to the anesthesia. There will be tubes coming from your chest draining excess fluid from around the heart and lungs.

As you progress in your recovery, you will begin preparing for discharge with walking goals, breathing tests and education provided by your health care team. This is where much of the self motivated work begins to ensure a successful at-home recovery. Recovery time is usually 6-12 weeks but it varies by each individual. A good support team which include family and Home Care professionals are a critical part of the open heart surgery journey.

Chances are good that you will need assistance once you are home. In Home Care is a great option to consider when family and friends are not available to help, or to incorporate as back up and relief support to those who will be assisting you. Here are some of the things you may need help with.

  • Getting in & out of the bed/chair

  • Ambulating

  • Bathing & dressing

  • Preparing meals

  • Opening jars, bottles, medicine

  • Putting on & tying shoes

  • Making trips to the grocery store, pharmacy, other errands & accompaniment to the doctor.

  • Toilet needs

  • Medication reminders

  • Light housekeeping

  • Passive exercises

  • Safety

If the challenges of family and career are making life overwhelming and difficult to care for a loved one in need of assistance, we can help. Today’s families have very busy lifestyles so many times family members want to help and in many cases try to help but generally it is only a matter of time before it all becomes overwhelming trying to juggle too many tasks at one time. For most just knowing that companies like ours are here when you need support and an extra set of caring hands make the process less stressful and smooth.

Should a loved one need help, call us today 770-442-8664!

Easy Living Services, Inc.

Providing Home Care to Atlanta families since 1994

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