What to expect after heart operation during first few weeks?

  1. Tiredness: This is quite common after a major operation. The body is busy doing the repairing process of the wound. Heart is getting accustomed to the changed scenario. Allow adequate rest for the body and mind. Engage yourself in light recreations like reading and listening to music. Take a short (half an hour) afternoon nap. Watching TV excessively is not good as eye strain may cause exhaustion. As the days progress, you will feel better.
  2. Reduced Appetite: There are several reasons for loss of appetite. Distaste caused by some of the medications (especially antibiotics and pain killers) is a common problem. Acidity caused by stress and some medicines is another reason. Pain and discomfort from the wounds can at times be disturbing.
  3. Pain: is the commonest problem. We are all aware of the bad effects of some of the pain medicines like acidity and kidney problems. This apprehension prevents many patients and relatives of patients from using adequate pain relief. Remember there are safe pain killers which may be used regularly until pain in relieved fully. It is important to take regular pain medications in the first two weeks – at least one in the morning and one at bedtime.
  4. Sleeplessness: Anxiety and pain are the villains. In the first few weeks you require adequate pain relief. Along with this, many patients need a mild anxiety relieving medicine to help them to get comfortable sleep. The medicines prescribed by our team are mild and the addiction potential is very low. So do not be afraid to take these for a short period. As the health improves, your normal sleep habit will return.
  5. Swelling of legs: Mild or even moderate swelling of feet and legs are common after veins have been removed during CABG. This is because the venous blood return is affected. This is not a disease. The deep vein system will take care of the blood circulation adequately. It takes some time for the body to make this adjustment. The Swelling is usually absent or minimal in the morning when you get up. It gradually increases over the day as ‘gravity’ acts. Simple methods like leg elevation and crepe bandages or elastic stocking can relieve this problem. However, if there is redness, severe pain or discharge in the wounds, you must contact your doctor.
  6. Sore throat: The plastic tube which is kept in the windpipe during anesthesia and immediate post operative period can cause mild inflammation and pain in throat during first few days. Mild pain killers and warm saline gargles can take care of this.
  7. Numbness: One of the most common and consistent complaints after bypass operation is the pain and numbness in the left side of chest. Fine nerves along the Internal Mammary Artery (IMA) are cut while harvesting this artery for bypass. These are nerves that supply the front of chest. There may be numbness, burning pain, different feeling during touch or shooting pain. Usually Left IMA is taken. So the symptoms are on the left side of chest (may involve breast in women). If both IMA are used these symptoms can occur on both sides. The symptoms gradually resolve. In some cases it may persist for up to one year. On the same count similar symptoms may appear in the leg along the vein harvesting wound.