It’s normal to be concerned about your health, especially after heart surgery. What lies ahead will help ease your worries and get you back on the path to good heart health after your surgery.
One of the great benefits of heart surgery is physically being able to do more than you could before. Two of the most common exercise questions following heart surgery are when to start and what to do.
When should I start?
As you are settled back at home; gradual exercise is essential in recovery. You might have to build up slowly and pace yourself, to begin with, and it is normal to feel tired in the first few weeks. Try to balance any activity with enough rest and sleep.
What should I do?
Walking is a great first exercise as it allows you to go at your own pace, and you can build up the length of your walk as you start to feel better. There are also many other exercises if walking seems like too much at first: heel raises, marching in place, stepping up and down on the bottom step of some stairs. At around 6-8 weeks post-surgery, you can resume more rigorous exercises including, cycling, jogging, and swimming.
It is common to experience some anxiety after heart surgery, especially when leaving the hospital. Some people think that stress played a part in their heart problem in the first place, and family members often feel very anxious. Many people start to feel more confident after the first few weeks. For others, stress can remain a problem. Evidence shows that reducing stress and tension can help your heart recover.
Maintaining a Healthy Heart
Your surgery has treated some of the problems, but it does not change the reasons that you had heart problems in the first place. To get the most from surgery, you must do what you can to prevent further complications.
Some changes in what you eat are a good idea following heart surgery. Make time to think about your diet. Watching what you eat will help keep your arteries clear and help you stay well.
Smoking and Alcohol
Smoking is a significant risk factor in heart disease; if you smoke, it will double your risk of further heart problems. Alcohol is fine if enjoyed in moderation. Consult your doctor for advice for an appropriate amount of alcohol during recovery.
Your Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a large cause of heart problems - as it makes your heart work harder. It leads to the narrowing of your arteries, including your coronary arteries. High blood pressure can also cause strokes, kidney failure, and eyesight problems. However, having high blood pressure usually does not make you feel unwell. It is an invisible symptom.
People with diabetes have a greater risk of developing heart disease. If you have diabetes, it is imperative to monitor and control your blood sugar to manage this illness. Please don’t forget to attend regular check-ups. Regular exercise is good for controlling diabetes as well as your heart, and for reducing high blood pressure and your weight.
Medicines are a vital part of your recovery; they help to avoid further problems and control symptoms. You may have medications to reduce the chance of blood clots, to treat angina - which is a type of chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart, to lower cholesterol, and others for pain management. The hospital staff will fully advise you of your medications before you are sent home.
Managing Your Pain
While some of the medications you are prescribed may be meant for pain management, it’s important to remember that you’re not limited to them. A sternum support harness provides stability and support, is a great option for day-to-day pain relief.
If you want to learn more about how to be an active participant in your recovery, contact us today!