Depending on the operation, the average heart surgery takes three to four hours in the operating room. Your loved ones should know that in order to give you the best care possible, your doctors and nurses will need at least one hour before your surgery and at least one hour after surgery to make you comfortable and settled into your room. Your loved ones will be permitted to visit you roughly six hours from the time you are taken to the pre-operative area.
Most patients who are recovering from heart surgery initially do so in the intensive care unit (ICU), however, some people also stay in the cardiac intensive care unit (CICU). When surgery is complete and your loved ones have spoken with the surgeon, they will be told in which ICU you are recovering.
The breathing tube can be taken out as soon as you are able to meet requirements for breathing on your own and all your other vital signs are stable.
The length of stay varies, but generally four to six days is average.
Since everyone recovers at a different rate, there is no set time limit for ICU stays. Many of our patients are able to leave the ICU in 18 to 24 hours. Leaving the ICU depends completely on you and your health status.
Yes, but usually only two to three times daily. You will probably be tired and weak during the first few weeks after surgery. However, we recommend that you walk at home three to four times a day for about five minutes at a time. Then, increase activity according to the written instructions provided at discharge.
Usually after your first visit with your surgeon you can begin driving again. This is typically three weeks after surgery.
After surgery, you will not be able to lift anything over five pounds for two months. This will give your breast bone (sternum) time to heal.
It is common to experience depression after heart surgery. Heart surgery is considered major surgery and with any major surgery patients usually have limitations. During the period of limitations, you may be listless and uninterested in doing much until you start feeling better.
- Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the centre of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
- Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
- Other signsmay include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or light-headedness.
Heart Attack Signs in Women
- Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. It lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
- Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
- Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
- As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.
A stent is a small mesh tube that’s used to treat narrow or weak arteries. Arteries are blood vessels that carry blood away from your heart to other parts of your body. Doctors also may place stents in weak arteries to improve blood flow and help prevent the arteries from bursting.
Stents usually are made of metal mesh, but sometimes they’re made of fabric. Fabric stents, also called stent grafts, are used in larger arteries. Some stents are coated with medicine that is slowly and continuously released into the artery. These stents are called drug-eluting stents. The medicine helps prevent the artery from becoming blocked again.
Atherosclerosis is not caused by old age. Examination of American casualties during the Korean and Vietnam wars showed significant atherosclerosis by age 18 or 20. Their Asian counterparts, raised on diets consisting mainly of rice and vegetables, had much healthier arteries. The elderly are more likely to have heart conditions not because of genetics, but because they may have indulged in unhealthful habits, like smoking and poor diet, for longer periods of time. Your doctor can tell you if you are one of only about 5 percent of the population with a genetic tendency toward heart disease. Many studies show the connection between lifestyle choices and heart health. An article published by Caldwell Esselstyn Jr., M.D., in the American Journal of Cardiology explains that stenting and bypass surgeries may only be a solution for a minority of patients, while a transition to a plant-based diet free of cholesterol proves to be a more effective treatment.
In 1948, William Castelli, M.D., began to monitor the population of Framingham, Mass., to study what factors influenced the rate of heart disease.4 Castelli’s study showed that a cholesterol level exists, below where coronary artery disease does not occur. Framingham data show that only patients with cholesterol levels of less than 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl) achieve the lowest coronary artery disease risk. In the first 50 years of the Framingham Heart Study, only five subjects with cholesterol levels of less than 150 mg/dl developed coronary artery disease. Rural residents in Asia, Africa, and Latin America typically have total cholesterol levels of about 125-140 mg/dl.
Cholesterol is not the same as fat. If you had a bit of cholesterol on the end of your finger, it would look like wax. The liver manufactures cholesterol and sends it out to other parts of the body for the production of hormones and cell membranes. Based on the results of the Framingham Heart Study and other research, the ideal cholesterol level is below 150 mg/dl. At that point, coronary artery disease is very unlikely. Unfortunately, nearly 107 million Americans have cholesterol levels more than 200 mg/dl,1 dangerously close to 225 mg/dl, which is the average cholesterol level of coronary artery disease victims.
According to the 2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines, the federal government’s recommended maximum for dietary cholesterol intake is still as high as 300 mg. Both the American Heart Association and the National Cholesterol Education Program recommend less than 200 mg per day for people at risk for cardiovascular disease. The amount of cholesterol in one egg exceeds this recommended maximum amount.
Different Types of Cholesterol
When cholesterol is transported in the bloodstream, it is packed into low-density lipoproteins (LDL), sometimes called the “bad cholesterol.” Although LDL is necessary in limited quantities (LDL delivers cholesterol to various parts of the body), a high LDL cholesterol level can dramatically increase your risk of a heart attack.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed data from 2005-2008 that examined prevalence, control, and treatment of high LDL levels. Around 71 million American adults (33.5 percent) had high LDL levels, while only 34 million (48.1 percent) received treatment. Twenty-three million (33.2 percent) had their LDL controlled. When cholesterol is released from dead cells it is picked up for disposal by high-density lipoproteins (HDL), the “good cholesterol.”
When doctors measure cholesterol levels, they first look at total cholesterol as a quick way to assess a person’s risk. For a more exact guide, they divide the total level by the HDL level. Heart attack risk is minimized by having a lower total cholesterol and a higher proportion of HDL cholesterol. The ratio of total cholesterol to HDL should be less than 4 to 1.