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5 Ways to Improve Bypass Surgery Recovery

July 23, 2021

Ways to extend life after bypass surgery



What are the ways to improve bypass surgery recovery?


  1. Care for incisions
  2. Take prescribes medications as needed
  3. Avoid strenuous physical activities
  4. Eat a heart-healthy diet
  5. Manage stress levels 


Bypass surgery is performed to restore proper blood flow to the heart muscle when coronary arteries become blocked by plaque. It involves using a blood vessel from the arms, chest, or legs to create a new route (also called a bypass) around the blocked arteries and improve blood flow to the heart. While bypass surgery is the most common type of heart surgery known for being remarkably safe, it is also invasive. Knowing the recovery instructions and the different ways to extend life after bypass surgery is the key to improving overall heart health.


Care for Incisions


Bypass surgery is an invasive procedure that involves making cuts in the chest to help restore blood flow to the heart. When you wake up after the procedure, you will have a tube in your mouth and you may experience side effects. This includes pain in the incision site. You will likely be in the intensive care unit (ICU) for 1 to 2 days to allow medical staff to monitor your vital signs and other symptoms. 


The first phase of bypass surgery recovery can last anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks. Before you leave the hospital, you will receive information for post-surgery care, including details on caring for your incisions and monitoring for signs of infection. It is important to follow these instructions closely and notify your doctor immediately if you have concerns.


Incision care instructions may include the following:


●     Do not take a bath in a tub or swim for the first few weeks. You may be allowed to take warm showers while avoiding the showerhead from spraying water on your incision.

●     Gently wash your incision daily using only mild soap and water.

●     Carefully pat it dry with a towel.

●     If you have tape on your chest, you can still wash the incision. The tape will fall off on its own.

●     Do not put any product (e.g, lotions, sunblock, powder, oils, gels, silicone sheets) on your incision unless instructed by your doctor.

●     Avoid movements that can pull your breastbone to boost wound healing.

●     Note that it is normal to feel numbness, itching, or tingling sensations during the healing period.

●     Be aware of signs of serious infections (e.g., more drainage or pus than usual, an odd smell from the incision, warmth or redness around the incision area, fever greater than 100°F or 37.7°C).


Take Prescribed Medications as Needed


Patients that undergo bypass surgery normally experience discomfort around the incision, including sensations of itching, tightness, and numbness. So before you leave the hospital, your doctor will likely prescribe medications to promote a healthy and comfortable recovery period. After the bypass surgery you will probably receive prescriptions for the following medications:


●      Medications to reduce cholesterol

●      Antiplatelet drugs or Aspirin to avoid blood clots

●      Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or Beta-blockers to help relax the arteries and lower blood pressure

●      Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen as pain medications


If you were already taking these medications before the surgery, you can talk to your doctor about potential changes in dosage levels. 


Avoid Strenuous Physical Activities  


For the first 6 to 8 weeks after bypass surgery, the breastbone will need to heal. This being said, you will need to avoid strenuous physical activities like pushing, pulling, or lifting things. Make it a point to ask your doctor if you can do simple day-to-day tasks as well such as doing household chores or climbing the stairs. You should also get approval from your doctor regarding driving.


One of the best ways to improve bypass surgery recovery and get back to normal levels of physical activities is to participate in a cardiac rehabilitation program. This will involve carefully monitored, mild physical activities to promote healing.


Eat A Heart-Healthy Diet


After the bypass surgery, you may notice that experience lost your appetite. This is normal, however, you will still need nourishment to help your body to heal and become stronger.


You can try to have smaller meals at first. Ask your doctor if you should avoid specific foods. A heart-healthy diet that is low in cholesterol and trans fats is recommended to help slow the build-up of plaques in the arteries. If you have no nutritional plan as part of your cardiac rehabilitation program, you can ask your doctor to provide you one.


Manage Stress Levels


Many patients that undergo bypass surgery experience stress or depression. When left unchecked, these increase the risk factor for developing heart diseases. Learn how to manage your stress levels alongside maintaining a healthy lifestyle.


Key Takeaway


In this article, we’ve shared some of the recovery tips and ways to extend life after bypass surgery. It's crucial to follow your doctor’s instructions after a bypass surgery for faster recovery rates.


If you have concerns about your heart health, consider visiting Cardinal Santos Medical Center (CSMC). CSMC has earned its place as one of the Philippines’ leading hospitals specializing in the fields of Cardiology and more.


For inquiries about CSMC’s services, click here or visit our branch at 10 Wilson St. Greenhills West, San Juan City, Metro Manila 1502 Philippines.