CABG Aftercare: What to Expect

Posted by Heart Hugger on Aug 10, 2022 9:56:38 AM

elderly woman in wheelchair with nurses

Like any serious operation, coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery has an intricate aftercare journey. The more you know about this process, the more prepared you'll be to follow your doctor's directions and reduce your risk of serious complications. Here's a look at what to expect from CABG aftercare and how you can take an active part in your healing journey.

Knowing the Basics About CABG Aftercare

Before you even start to think about CABG surgery recovery, you should understand what happens during the procedure and how it impacts your body and recovery.

For example, it's important to know that this is often performed as an open-heart surgery, which means healing can take longer than with less invasive procedures. Your heart, breastbone and rib cage can all be impacted. However, it's not just your chest; your surgeon will also take part of a blood vessel from an area like your wrist, which means you'll have more healing to do.

Here are a few additional things to understand so you know more about CABG aftercare:

  • CABG surgery is performed to "bypass" a blocked artery in your heart with a blood vessel taken from elsewhere in your body.
  • The procedure can include double, triple, or even quadruple bypasses.
  • CABG surgery can take several hours.
  • Your surgeon may stop and restart your heart during the procedure.
  • Additional procedures may be required, like placing a stent in your artery to hold it open.

CABG Aftercare in the Hospital

Once the procedure is complete, CABG aftercare begins in the ICU. That's because the ICU is specially equipped to handle patient needs after a large operation like CABG surgery.

You might remain under anesthesia for up to four hours after your surgery. During this time, you'll be connected to a ventilator--a machine that does your breathing for you. This is achieved through the use of a breathing tube.

Your doctors and nurses will monitor several things during this time:

  • Your vital signs: Vital signs like your pulse help medical experts keep an eye on your overall health and recovery.
  • Your stomach: Anesthesia sometimes causes nausea, so you'll have a tube to help settle your stomach and prevent bloating. This tube is inserted through your nose.
  • Your chest: After surgery, the incision site may drain fluid. You'll have a chest tube inserted to drain this fluid from the chest cavity.

When you wake up, medical experts will continue to monitor you for a while. When you're stable, you'll be moved to a regular hospital room for up to 12 days depending on your needs.

For the rest of your stay, you'll work with doctors and nurses to manage your CABG aftercare needs. This can include:

  • Gradually returning to solid foods.
  • Performing breathing and coughing exercises.
  • Walking two to three times per day.
  • Drinking the right amount of liquid.
  • Learning about potential complications.

CABG Aftercare at Home

After your hospital stay, you'll be sent home with a discharge plan. This plan helps you understand what to expect, what you can and can't do, and how you can help make your recovery process more comfortable.

Here are a few things to know about at-home CABG aftercare:

You'll have several different medications.

Your doctors and nurses will give you a lot of information about medications and how often to take them. You'll likely take things like:

  • Aspirin, to prevent blood clots.
  • ACE inhibitors to treat high blood pressure.
  • Nitrates to help manage pain.
  • Digestive aids to minimize the risk of constipation.

You will need to monitor your wounds.

Remember, CABG surgery involves more than one incision or wound. As such, you'll need to monitor your chest area as well as your wrist or leg (depending on where your doctor took the new artery from). You'll have specific instructions about what to look for, like increased swelling, and you'll clean your wound sites regularly.

You may have a cardiac rehabilitation program to follow.

A cardiac rehabilitation program helps you simplify your recovery journey and manage your emotional state. You'll work on recovery exercises, stress management techniques, individual or group therapy, and more.

Long-term recovery requires a changed lifestyle.

Although you can completely recovery from this procedure with the proper CABG aftercare, things will change. For example, your doctors will likely talk to you about how to address the lifestyle factors contributing to your cardiac condition, and you may need to change your eating and exercise habits.

In conclusion, there's a lot to know about CABG aftercare, both in the hospital and at home. However, when you understand what to expect, you can take a more active role in your recovery.

Are you undergoing CABG surgery? Ask your doctor if Heart Hugger is right for your cardiac rehabilitation and CABG aftercare journey. Contact us today to learn more.

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Written by Heart Hugger

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