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Leaving the hospital and going home after cardiac surgery is an exciting time. Most patients are eager to return to the comforts of home and the familiarity of their daily routine. Remember, however, that heart surgery is a complicated affair and healing completely takes time. Keep these vital homecare tips in mind during the weeks following surgery.

Wound Care

Most cardiac patients leave the hospital before their incisions heal entirely. To care for these incisions at home, take showers rather than baths, and use warm water as opposed to hot. Never scrub wounds when cleaning them. Instead, dab gently and carefully at the incision. Pat incisions dry and keep body lotions and sprays away from the area.

Exercise Carefully

It’s essential to get moving as soon as possible after surgery, but too much exercise can create strain. To find the perfect balance, patients must start slowly and listen carefully to their bodies. It’s acceptable to need about an hour of rest after being active. Those who feel the need to rest longer than that are pushing themselves too hard. Working on crafts or going for a short walk are all good ways to get active. The cardiologist may also recommend specific post-surgery exercises. Save swimming, running, golfing and more rigorous activities for later.

Weigh In

When recovering from cardiac surgery, daily weight checks are crucial. Many cardiac problems cause water retention and rapid weight gain. Step on the scale every day after surgery and immediately report any significant gains to the cardiologist. In this instance, a considerable weight gain is a fluctuation of more than two or three pounds in a day or three to five pounds in a week.

Call the Doctor

Although many patients recover from cardiac surgery without complications, problems can arise. It’s essential to contact the doctor in the case of excessive pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, or loss of consciousness. Bloody urine or stool also require a medical examination, as does a fever over 100 degrees Fahrenheit and swelling in the lower extremities and vomiting. Bring any drainage at the incision site to the doctor’s attention as well.

Medical advancements have helped to make cardiac surgery safer and less invasive, but heart surgery remains an intense procedure. It’s crucial for those who undergo treatment to follow their doctor’s instructions and exercise caution when returning home from the hospital. The right home care minimizes the risk of complications and can shorten recovery times.