After you get home you may feel a little nervous and worried about being on your own. Well, don’t sit and worry if you think something is not right about your health or healing. If you have any of the following signs of a heart attack or infection call your doctor, cardiologist or surgeon. Keep their numbers handy. If the signs tell you it’s an emergency and you are not able to reach your doctors, call 911 immediately.
Your stitches or staples will be removed within 10 to 14 days after heart surgery. You should check your incision every day. Call you doctor if you have signs of infection listed below.
Warning signs of infection
- red, hot and swollen incisions(s)
- smelling discharge coming from an incision
- a temperature over 100 degrees for a few days
- chest congestion, coughing, and problems with breathing at rest
Warning signs of a heart attack
- intense, steady pressure or burning pain in the center of your chest
- pain that starts in the center of the chest and goes to a shoulder and arm (usually the left) or both shoulders and arms, back, neck and jaw
- prolonged pain in the upper abdomen
- nausea, vomiting, profuse sweating
- shortness of breath, looking pale
- dizziness, light-headedness or fainting
- frequent angina attacks like you may have had before surgery
- a sense of anxiety or doom
Warning signs of an emergency
- your are bleeding a lot of bright red blood or you see blood clots
- you have a sharp pain that does not go away with your pain medicine
- your incision(s) opens
- if you had leg surgery, your leg turns blue or you lose feeling in your leg
- your fever goes up fast or is over 101 degrees
- you have allergic reactions to medicines you are taking
A Patient and Family Guide
The thought of having heart surgery can be pretty scary. You may be most afraid of what you don’t know about it. Like -
- How should you prepare?
- What exactly will happen during surgery?
- How long will it take?
- What will your recovery from surgery be like?
- How long will it be before you fully recover?
- Will you ever be the same again?
- When can I return to work?
- When can I return to sex after heart surgery?
This information will answer many questions for you and your family and hopefully put some of your fears to rest. But it can’t answer all of the questions that you might have about your own heart problem and the treatment of it. Always rely on your doctor and your healthcare team for that.
If your heart problem was discovered by your primary care doctor, he has probably referred you to a heart specialist, called a cardiologist. Following an exam and many tests, the cardiologist has recommended surgery to treat your heart problem. The cardiologist then referred you to a heart surgeon. This booklet will let you know what to expect during your visit with the surgeon. And it will explain what will take place before, during, and after your heart surgery. If you have already met with the surgeon, review the first part of this booklet to make sure you understand everything you need and want to know before making a final decision about having the surgery. Remember, peace of mind is very important to your good health. Your doctors want you to have all of the facts so you can make the decision which is best for you.
- Your visit with a heart surgeon.
- Types of Open Heart Surgery.
- Getting Ready for Open Heart Surgery.
- Your Hospital Admission for Open Heart Surgery.
- On the Road to Recovery After Open Heart Surgery.
- Possible Problems After Open Heart Surgery – when to call the doctor.