During cardiac rehabilitation, you'll have many solutions at your disposal--but one you shouldn't overlook is Heart Hugger. Here's what patients and their families need to know about Heart Hugger and the role it plays in the healing process.
What is Heart Hugger?
Heart Hugger is a sternum support harness. It's worn around your rib cage, with straps over your shoulders and handles in the center of your chest. Although one of its main purposes is to help make breathing and coughing easier, it also provides the support you need to stay comfortable and heal more quickly during cardiac rehabilitation.
How does it work?
You can operate Heart Hugger yourself. Just squeeze the handles and you'll feel uniform pressure around your chest, providing sternum support and stability while helping protect your wound.
When is it worn?
Your doctors and nurses will likely apply Heart Hugger immediately after extubation--that is, when the breathing tube is removed from your trachea after surgery. You'll continue wearing Heart Hugger throughout your hospital stay and even once you go home, allowing you to take the healing process into your own hands.
When should you squeeze the handles?
Although you can squeeze the handles whenever you need sternum support, most patients find it most helpful in a few situations:
- Performing doctor-ordered breathing exercises.
- Performing light exercise as recommended by doctors.
- Taking deep breaths.
Why Not Use a Sternum Support Pillow?
You may have heard of Heart Pillows, also known as cough or cardiac pillows. They're a popular option for sternum support after cardiac surgery--but they may not have earned their reputation as a reliable source of comfort and care.
Unfortunately, there is no evidence that these pillows will keep their promise and provide the sternum support you need during the healing process. In fact, it might be best to call them a placebo--which, while perhaps capable of providing emotional or mental benefits, won't do much for your body.
Here are a few more reasons to say goodbye to these pillows and choose Heart Hugger instead:
- They don't reduce sternal wound infections.
- They don't address or reduce pain levels.
- They don't completely support the wound area and can actually create more pressure.
- They must be held in place to provide any support--a struggle during exercises and other movement.
Benefits of Heart Hugger
Heart Hugger is an effective way to provide consistent, reliable sternum support whenever you need it. However, the benefits don't end there. Here are a few more things you can expect from this healing tool:
Increased wound stability
If your wound isn't kept stable and protected when you cough, sneeze, breathe deeply or move around, you could experience more pain--and the healing process might even take longer. Luckily, Heart Hugger sits right over the wound area and provides support on demand.
Heart Hugger is designed to help keep you out of the hospital. By protecting your chest and encouraging you to move with more confidence, this vest makes it easier to follow your doctor's orders, which can lead to a reduced risk of wound infections and can even decrease the severity of complications if they do arise.
It may also limit the chances of sternal dehiscence--a condition in which the bones of your sternum start to separate. This happens because these bones are often purposefully maneuvered during surgery so your surgeon can reach your heart; if you don't get the sternum support you need, the bones may not heal properly.
You have a lot of options for pain relief after surgery, but Heart Hugger may be one of the simplest, safest, and most effective. It can be used whenever you need it--no need to wait until the next dose as with medication. It also doesn't have the side effects or risks you might face with other pain relief options.
In conclusion, Heart Hugger is a key tool in the cardiac rehabilitation process. It can be operated on demand and has all kinds of benefits, like reduced complications and pain relief. It's also more reliable than other sternum support tools like pillows, giving you the confidence you need to play an active role in your healing journey.
To find out more about Heart Hugger and other sternum support options, contact us today.