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What to Expect During an Open Heart Surgery

September 09, 2021

What can you expect during open heart surgery?


  1. Preparation before the open heart surgery
  2. It is an invasive procedure
  3. You will stay at the ICU for close monitoring and recovery


If you have medical conditions such as a congenital heart problem, arrhythmia, aneurysm, or coronary heart disease, you may be prescribed by your doctor to undergo open heart surgery. While this may be a daunting experience, knowing what to expect during open heart surgery will help provide you peace of mind that you will go through a safe and effective procedure.


Before showing up to your appointment with the best cardiologist in the Philippines, it is best to familiarize yourself about the procedure. An open heart surgery is an invasive procedure that has a long recovery timeline. There are preparation steps to do before the surgery as well as steps post-surgery to ensure you recover better.


Continue reading on to learn about the preparation, procedure, recovery, and all the things to expect during open heart surgery.


Preparation Before the Open Heart Surgery


If your open heart surgery is planned, which means the procedure is not done for emergency purposes, you will be instructed on how exactly to prepare for it.


As a patient, you may need to undergo several diagnostic tests such as a chest x-ray, EKG, ECG, carotid ultrasound, blood test, or urine test to ensure the open heart surgery is done safely while considering your medical history. You need to tell your doctor if you are taking any medications as some can cause blood thinning or increase bleeding in the heart.


It is also important to talk to your doctor about your alcohol consumption or smoking intake before the surgery. You may be asked to quit smoking or drinking alcohol to reduce the risk of life-threatening complications.


The evening before the open heart surgery, you will be asked to use an antiseptic soap to reduce infection risks. In addition, you will not be allowed to eat or drink after midnight before the surgery. Make sure to bring all the essential items you might need for your hospital stay. This may include money, loose and comfortable clothing, identification cards, and insurance documents.


Before your surgery, you will be asked to remove all jewelry and wear a hospital gown. An intravenous line (IV) will be attached to your arm as a means to administer fluids and medications during and after the procedure. Just as you are being wheeled into the operating room, an anesthetic will be given to help you relax.


It Is an Invasive Procedure


Patients need to understand that open heart surgery is an invasive procedure. Open heart surgery is typically done to improve blood flow to the heart, to replace the heart valves, or to perform heart transplants. After you are given anesthesia, the surgeon will cut through the breastbone. Depending on the procedure and to allow surgeons to fully access the heart, incisions up to 8 inches can be made along the breastbone.


After you are asleep from the anesthesia, a ventilator will be inserted into your airway. The surgeon will temporarily stop your heart as it pumps using a machine.


Depending on the type of open heart surgery you will need, various steps throughout the operation will happen. For coronary artery bypass surgery, the surgeon will place a graft to redirect blood around a blocked artery. With a heart transplant, a donor heart will be used as a replacement. As for heart valve replacement, an artificial valve will be used to restore normal blood flow.


After the procedure, your breastbone will be closed with sutures and wires. An open heart surgery can take between 4 to 6 hours and your family can stay in the waiting room throughout the procedure.


You Will Stay at The ICU for Close Monitoring and Recovery  


As soon as the surgery is done, you will be wheeled to the intensive care unit (ICU) where nurses will closely monitor your condition. They will check your vital signs and provide attentive care to ensure you recover safely. Expect your initial recovery period to take between 6 to 8 weeks.


When you wake up in the ICU, you will have breathing tubes, drainage tubes, a catheter, IV lines, and a heart monitor attached to help you on your road to recovery. After you are released from the hospital, you will receive detailed recovery instructions including details for lifestyle changes, diet restrictions, pain management, wound care, medications, exercise, and cardiac rehabilitation programs. Feel free to ask your doctor about any health concerns you have in mind.


Key Takeaway


It’s best to know what to expect during an open heart surgery as it significantly improves your recovery and your overall heart health. 


Here at the Cardinal Santos Medical Center (CSMC), we make sure our open heart surgeries are performed safely and effectively. Make an appointment with the best cardiologist in the Philippines of CSMC and determine the best plan for your heart health by clicking here. You can also book an E-consult appointment to talk to your CSMC doctors at the comfort of your home.