Recovery from BypassAfter surgery, the patient is taken to the cardiac surgery intensive care unit. Here specially trained personnel continually monitor all vital functions, including the patient's EKG, blood pressure, and the force of blood ejected from the heart. Medications to make the heart beat more quickly or more slowly may be administered. Infusions will be given to maintain fluid balance and regulate blood pressure. Any tubes that have been placed in the chest to drain blood or air will be watched. Laboratory tests will be taken to assess organ function.
The patient will be moved from intensive care and into a step-down unit on the first day after the operation. Formerly, bypass operation patients were given several days' bed rest, but health professionals now recognize the importance of getting patients out of bed, walking, eating, and drinking as soon as possible.
Discharge from the hospital will occur much more quickly for patients who have had minimally invasive heart surgery (2-3 days as compared to 5-10 days for traditional bypass surgery). They can also expect a faster return to normal activity (usually about 2 weeks). Patients who have had traditional open-chest surgery can expect to drive again after 6 weeks, and to go back to work in 6-12 weeks.
Cardiac rehabilitation can help people who have had bypass surgery get going again. A team of health-care providers, which may include doctors, nurses, nutritionists, physical and occupational therapists, and mental health professionals, lead the patient through a rehab program that's tailored to fit his or her needs. For instance, it might not be a good idea for people who have very high blood pressure or severe heart disease to exercise after bypass surgery, but they can still benefit from other aspects of rehab.
There are four phases of cardiac rehabilitation:
- Phase I
- Phase II
- Phase III
- Phase IV
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