Q:

What should you expect after open heart surgery?

A:

Quick Answer

Following heart surgery, most patients spend several days in the hospital, including a couple of days in the intensive care unit, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. While in the intensive care unit, patients often receive extra oxygen and intravenous fluids.

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Full Answer

Upon leaving the intensive care unit, the patient usually goes to another part of the hospital for several days before going home, explains the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. When in the hospital, doctors and nurses watch a patient's blood pressure, heart rate, breathing and incision site.

Upon returning home, a patient must care for the incision, look for signs of complications and learn to cope with the healing process, notes the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. The hospital medical team provides the patient information about how to care for the body after surgery as well as information about follow-up appointments, medications and when it's necessary to call a doctor.

Some of the things a person may experience following heart surgery include chest pain, muscle pain, swelling, loss of appetite and problems sleeping, states the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Mood swings, depression and constipation may also occur, but these effects typically go away after a period of time. As the patient recovers, doctors monitor the situation and inform the patient when he can return to normal daily life.

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