Lifestyle changes characterized by bad eating habits, sedentary jobs, and high levels of stress are some of the factors that have contributed to the incidence of cardio-vascular diseases at 24 per cent, with heart attacks and strokes being the leading cause of concern.
Apart from controlling the risk factors and adopting a healthier lifestyle, the post surgery care can make a big difference in reducing the chances of the re-occurrence of the attacks and strokes.
Below are a few tips on the Do’s and Don’ts to follow after a heart surgery.
· Keep your incisions clean and dry at all times.
· Use only soap and water to cleanse the area.
· Call the doctor if you notice that your sternum (breast bone) feels like it moves, pops or cracks with movement.
A healthy diet helps the healing process after a heart surgery. During the recovery period, patients need to eat a balanced diet for a speedy recovery.
Choosing the right kinds of food with high fiber and protein content, and cooking oil such as canola oil containing a good amount of Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, high in monounsaturated fats and low in saturated is extremely essential for patients recovering from a surgery or even heart patients for that matter.
It is important to get enough rest or you may feel overtired and irritable. Sleep also aids the recovery and makes the process easier and faster. Hence, encourage recovering patients to:
· Take pain medication about half an hour before bedtime
· Avoid caffeine in the evenings (such as chocolate, coffee, tea, and colas)
It is very important to check with your doctor if and what medication you need to take after the surgery.
The doctor will also tell you if these medications need to be taken just until the recovery or lifelong. Make sure you understand the names of your medications, what they are for, how often and what times to take them.
For the first 6-8 weeks, the following guidelines are generally recommended for a recovering patient:
· Check with your doctor to confirm what all activities you can do
· Gradually increase daily activities, do not jump into work.
· Spread your activities throughout the day. If you become tired, take a break
· Do not apply ointments, oils or dressings to your incision unless specifically told to do so.
· Do not ignore increased symptoms like drainage, swelling or oozing or opening of the incision, redness around the area, increased body temperature etc.
Patients must avoid food with high amounts of saturated fats as they are considered bad for the heart. Saturated fats are responsible for raising the bad (LDL) cholesterol in the blood and have been linked to an increased risk of coronary heart disease.
The biggest source of such fats is the oil we use to cook our food every day. Hence, choosing the right oil is essential.
Unfortunately, many people complain of having trouble sleeping for some time after surgery. This could be due to a variety of reasons. Hence, do not ignore if:
· Normal sleep patterns do not return in two or three weeks
· Lack of sleep begins causing changes in behavior or causes any other problems
Do not take medications that are not prescribed when you are discharged from the hospital. Also, don’t continue any medications you were taking before surgery, without checking with your doctor. Some over-the-counter medications like pain killers may have an effect on your prescription medications and cause side effects hence, do not use them without checking with your doctor.
Even while resuming the daily activities post a heart surgery, it is advisable to gradually progress into the following with the doctor’s permission rather than starting immediately. These activities are:
· Lifting objects greater than 10-20 pounds
· Climbing up and down stairs several times during the day
· Do not push or pull heavy objects
Read more articles on Heart Health
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