Recovery time from heart surgery varies among patients, but the first recovery phase, generally the most difficult, lasts roughly six to eight weeks. Upon release from the hospital, patients and their caretakers receive precise instructions to expedite physical healing and ensure emotional well-being, according to WebMD. A comprehensive surgery recovery guide includes instructions for activities ranging from driving and exercise to diet and sleeping.
The type of heart surgery that patients undergo influences the duration of and activities in their recovery routines. Patients who have bypass surgery often have pain in their legs, which are where skin grafts come from. Therefore, those individuals should begin walking soon after surgery to relieve pain and prevent stiffness. Generally, physicians recommend waiting 6 to 8 weeks after surgery to start driving again, notes WebMD, although they may ride as passengers in cars.
Following surgery, patients gradually increase activity. At first, they perform light household chores and take care to avoid standing in one place for more than 15 minutes. They are encouraged to walk, but should not push, pull or lift heavy objects.
Physicians often prescribe a heart-healthy diet following surgery. Patients may experience a decreased appetite at first, which usually resolves in several weeks. Heart surgery patients may have trouble sleeping at first, but can take medication or use other relaxation techniques to help resume normal sleeping patterns.