When will I be ready for discharge?
Everyone progresses at his/her own rate. You may begin to think about going home when you see that your activity is increasing and your suture lines are healing well. The usual length of hospital stay is four to seven days. To be discharged, you must: Have stable vital signs and a stable heart rhythm. Be weaned off oxygen with good oxygen levels. Be able to walk and be steady on your feet. Have blood lab results within normal range and have no signs or symptoms of infection. Be able to tolerate regular food and have a bowel movement. If you are taking Coumadin (warfarin), you may need to stay in the hospital until your blood test, known as an INR, is at a target level that is determined by your surgeon.
What should I look out for at home?
Check the body temperature in the morning and in the evening and write it down. Inform the doctor or a nurse if the temperature of 38 ° C or more lasts longer than two days or if you have a temperature of 38.5 ° C at any time. If you develop difficulty breathing, new onset chest pain, or heart palpitations (strong, rapid heart beats), call emergency help.
When will I be able to return to work?
The standard answer is about three months after your surgery, but it varies with the type of surgery, hospital course and type of work. Your doctor will discuss this with you before your discharge home or when you return to the clinic for your follow-up visit.
When can I drive a car?
Due to the healing of the breastbone, weakness, fatigue and general discomfort, you should not try to drive for at least 3 months after your surgery. However, you can be a passenger in a car.
When can I resume sexual activity?
In general, you are able to resume sexual activities when you can climb two flights of stairs or walk two blocks without undue fatigue. Sexual activity, as with any activity, should be postponed until you are rested.
What can I eat?
Your physician may order a diet restricted in sodium. Because of this, you will not be able to add salt to your meals. You will receive a cardiac menu to select your meals daily. Between-meal snacks may be ordered. Dietary modifications or adjustments in your diet may include restrictions in calories, sodium, fats or cholesterol. Understanding the importance of maximizing heart-healthy foods and minimizing the restricted foods is instrumental in preventing further heart disease. If you want to speak with a dietitian, ask your nurse.
Goals of Nutritional Therapy
Reduce total fat intake to 30 percent of total caloric intake and limit saturated fats as much as possible. Limit or avoid foods high in cholesterol. Reduce sodium. Achieve and maintain an appropriate body weight. Increase intake of high-fiber foods. Decrease alcohol and caffeine.