Guidelines For Patients
If your chest wound is red, painful, hot, swollen or drains (especially pus), tell your doctor at once.
Care of Your Incisions: You will be encouraged to shower daily with warm water and a mild soap to keep your incisions from becoming infected. Avoid deodorant soaps, creams, lotions or cocoa butter. If your incision was made in your breastbone, do not lift anything more than 10 pounds for three months after surgery. Your breastbone needs time to heal properly.
You will be taking your temperature twice a day, morning and evening. If your temperature goes to 101 or higher, take two Tylenol and call your surgeon at once.
You will weigh yourself every morning. Tell your surgeon if you gain more than four pounds in one or two days, or if you notice increased swelling in your legs, or feel short of breath.
To increase blood flow and improve muscle strength, it is important to gradually increase your level of activity. Walking is one of the simplest ways to help yourself recover. Walk at least three times a day, increasing your distance as you can tolerate. Climb stairs once a day if possible.
Do not lift, push, or pull more than 10 pounds for three months to allow your sternum to heal properly.
We do not recommend you drive a car for at least one month. If you were to get into a car accident your healing sternum would be at risk. You may be a passenger.
Wear the stockings during the day and remove at bedtime. Have a family member help you apply them in the morning.
While sitting, elevate your legs above the waist to help prevent leg swelling.
Good nutrition is important for healing. It is very important that you reduce your salt intake to prevent fluid retention that may overload your heart and cause it to work inefficiently. We recommend you eat low fat, low cholesterol, high fiber foods.
Please schedule an appointment with your cardiothoracic surgeon one week from discharge. You will also need to make a follow up appointment to see your Cardiologist one to two weeks after discharge.
By joining a cardiac rehabilitation program, you can improve your chances of resuming a healthy, active lifestyle. Ask your cardiologist when you should join St. Vincent’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Program
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