Heart Surgery and Cardiac Rehab Preparation Tips

Posted by Heart Hugger on Oct 18, 2017 2:32:00 PM

woman worried about heart surgery

With medical technology these days, these procedures can be considered somewhat “minor”; however, recovery time is not overnight. So proper preparation is key to a successful recovery. 

Steps to Prepare for Heart Surgery:

  1. Be sure to purchase/order a Heart Hugger before your surgery, so you can be sure to enjoy the comfort and recovery benefits immediately after your surgery.
  2. Compile a list of friends/family in advance who are willing to help. Assign one person to serve as coordinator of post-op visits/meals. Limit to no more than two visitors per day.
  3. Purchase/rent/borrow a comfortable recliner.
  4. Have extra pillows handy for when you can sleep in your bed again. This varies by patient, but I was in my bed the second night after I got home. For some, it’s weeks.
  5. If your primary caretaker works have a back-up available, especially early on when it may be too painful to do simple tasks such as pulling a shirt over your head or opening a water bottle.
  6. Suggest to friends that they bring/send you their favorite DVDs. This is also a great time to catch up on or watch a TV series.
  7. Meditate.
  8. Get a massage or two in the week prior to surgery. This will help blood flow more freely and keep you relaxed.
  9. If possible, train on a pilates reformer for 1-3 months prior to surgery. I am almost convinced this is why I had minimal sternal pain post-op. A cheaper alternative would be floor pilates classes.
  10. Having books and magazines on hand is great but make sure they are light reads.
  11. Be prepared for disappointment and pleasant surprises. Some of the folks you think will be the biggest help will let you down and vice versa.
  12. Be prepared for frustration and aggravation—hospital bills, insurance issues (especially with heart defects), normal things you cannot do, cabin fever due to exhaustion and not being able to drive for 4-6 weeks. Cabin fever may be less of a factor if you live in a city or a small town. I, unfortunately, did not.
  13. Keep a blog, Facebook and/or Twitter page. These are a great alternative to replying to phone calls/emails when you’re exhausted. Facebook/Twitter is great for mini status updates and the blog for longer updates. I found my blog to be very therapeutic, too.
  14. Find a support network. I used the ACHA Discussion Forum religiously and even found a few new friends!


These are just a few examples of how to prepare for heart surgery. Everyone will have a different recovery period so be sure to design your preparation around your interests. 

Heart Hugger

Written by Heart Hugger

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