Open Heart Surgery FAQs
Will I have pain?
Some degree of discomfort is to be expected. Many patients report this discomfort to be less than what they thought or less than they have experienced with other surgeries. Your surgeon or nurse practitioner will prescribe pain control medications that are appropriate for you.
How long will I be in the hospital?
Hospitalization averages 3-5 days following open heart surgery.
Will my medication be the same after surgery?
The need for medications after surgery is highly individual. Your doctor or nurse practitioner will explain medications that may be necessary for you.
How long do I have to do incentive spirometry?
To promote good lung inflation, you should continue your breathing exercises for the first month after surgery.
Will I need blood?
Open heart surgery is a long procedure and blood loss is expected. It is possible that you will need blood products during or after your surgery.
Can I have a glass of wine at night?
Alcohol can cause serious side effects when combined with some medications. Consume alcoholic beverages ONLY with your doctor’s permission.
What will the incision be like?
The incision will vary depending on the type of procedure. The majority of patients will have one incision in the center of the chest and two or three small ½ inch incisions for drains. In addition, patients having multiple bypass surgery could have incisions on their leg or arm.
Why do I have to walk?
Walking helps to improve circulation, strengthen the heart muscle, expand the lungs and improve emotional well being, all of which promote the healing process. Inactivity following surgery may contribute to complications.
When can I drive?
Most patients can start to drive about one month following surgery.
When can I resume my normal activities?
Bathing, eating and walking can be resumed immediately. Most other activities can usually be resumed after one month. You should increase your activities gradually allowing time for rest.
When you select MedStar Union Memorial Hospital, you're choosing a national leader in heart care. Contact the Heart Institute by calling 1-877-744-3278 or request an appointment.