Coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery is a major operation, and the recovery can be challenging. After coming home from the hospital, most people feel tired and weak during the first week and gradually regain energy over the next four to six weeks.
Your husband will probably get a small pillow (most hospitals provide these) to hold against his chest to prevent discomfort when he coughs or breathes deeply. It's important that he do both to lower his chances of developing lung problems.
Keep an eye out for possible signs of infection, which are most likely to happen in the first two weeks after the operation. They include a fever greater than 100.4º F; new or worsened pain in the chest or around the incision; a rapid heart rate; or reddened skin, bleeding, or pus-like drainage from the incision. Call his surgeon right away if any of these occurs.
After waking up, a person will have a tube down their throat that helps them to breathe. It will feel strange and uncomfortable, but it is necessary. Usually, a doctor will remove the tube after 24 hours.
On average, a person will remain in the hospital for about a week after surgery. It is normal to experience soreness and night sweats, and there is likely to be some fluid in the lungs, so people should expect a good bit of coughing.
People usually start to eat and move around soon after the doctor has removed the breathing tube.
Common post-surgery medications typically include drugs called platelet inhibitors, which help prevent blood clots.
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Chief of cardiac surgery unit
Department of Surgery
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Tehran University of Medical Sciences
Tehran – Iran
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Recovering from a coronary artery bypass graft procedure takes time and everyone recovers at slightly different speeds. Generally, you should be able to sit in a chair after 1 day, walk after 3 days, and walk up and down stairs after 5 or 6 days. Most people make a full recovery within 12 weeks of the operation.
After heart surgery, people can experience a level of confusion, particularly while they are in intensive care. This happens for up to 50% of patients having heart surgery. Postoperative confusion often starts a couple of days after surgery and usually lasts a short number of days or even just hours. More than half of people who undergo cardiac bypass surgery experience memory problems and other cognitive deficits immediately after surgery. Usually, such problems fade within weeks or months.
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Recovering from a coronary artery bypass graft procedure takes time and everyone recovers at slightly different speeds. Early but not mid-term mortality is higher in patients aged 75 or more years when compared with those aged 70–74 years. Off-pump coronary artery bypass surgery is safe and effective in the elderly population.
Although complications from coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) are uncommon, the risks include:
Some patients develop a fever associated with chest pain, irritability, and decreased appetite. This is due to inflammation involving the lung and heart sac.
This complication sometimes is seen 1 to 6 weeks after surgeries that involve cutting through the pericardium (the outer covering of the heart). This reaction usually is mild. However, some patients may develop fluid buildup around the heart that requires treatment.
Memory loss and other changes, such as problems concentrating or thinking clearly, may occur in some people.
These changes are more likely to occur in people who are older, who have high blood pressure or lung disease, or who drink excessive amounts of alcohol. These side effects often improve several months after surgery.
Use of a heart-lung bypass machine increases the risk of blood clots forming in your blood vessels. Clots can travel to the brain or other parts of the body and block the flow of blood, which may cause a stroke or other problems. Recent technical improvements in heart-lung bypass machines are helping reduce the risk of blood clots forming.
In general, the risk of complications is higher if CABG is done in an emergency situation (for example, during a heart attack), if you're older than 70, or if you have a history of smoking.
Your risk also is higher if you have other diseases or conditions, such as diabetes, kidney disease, lung disease, or peripheral arterial disease.
After surgery, most people feel better and might remain symptom-free for as long as 10 to 15 years. Ninety percent of a group of 1,324 patients operated on between 1972 and 1984 survived five years after surgery, according to one study, and 74 percent survived 10 years. That number has remained relatively stable ever since.
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Heart bypass surgery is typically an open-heart surgery, which means that the surgeon cuts the chest open to reach the heart. The surgeon can then perform the surgery “on-pump” or “off-pump.” On-pump surgery involves using a heart-lung machine that circulates blood and breathes for the body.
It is a major operation and a bypass surgery patient will usually spend a few days in intensive care with a breathing tube and 24-hour monitoring before being transferred to a medical ward.
While in the intensive care unit (ICU), everything from their general heart performance, blood pressure and breathing will be constantly assessed and recorded along with other vital signs. Once medical staff is satisfied the patient is on the road to recovery, they will be released from intensive care.
The patient will most likely spend another five or so days in a ward and the level of care they receive during this critical post-surgery period will play a large role in determining the operation’s overall success.
Post-op surgery care can be summarised in two words, bed rest. Initially, even getting to the toilet will be a difficult task. With ongoing pain medications, the patient may be groggy and lethargic, but that’s all perfectly normal and will ease over time as healing kicks in.
Above all, be as supportive and encouraging as you can. They’ve been through an ordeal, but with your help, they’ll be leading a full, healthy life again in no time.
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