Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery: What to Expect After You Go Home
Although you may return home a few days after the completion of your coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) procedure, it may take several months before you can return to all of the activities you enjoyed prior to surgery. Recovery from major surgery has both physical and emotional aspects.
For the first month or two after you are discharged from the hospital, you will be working to return to your presurgical level of activity. Your doctor will set goals for you to reach and will place restrictions on activities that would slow your recovery.
Physical aspects of recovery
The pace of your physical recovery will depend significantly on your health before you received bypass surgery. For example, if you had coronary artery disease (CAD) but no other medical conditions, it will probably take you less time to resume a normal activity level than if you are older or have other medical conditions.
Your recovery will take at least 4 to 6 weeks. During your recovery from CABG surgery, your life will probably be quite different from how it was before your surgery. The table below lists "normal" physical conditions after CABG surgery.
Emotional aspects of recovery
Recovering from CABG surgery means not only getting back your physical strength but also your emotional and mental well-being. The fatigue and pain you might be experiencing may make you feel depressed. You may:
Also, limitations on your physical activity can leave you with few options to get out of the house and clear your head.
You should be aware that these feelings of depression are common for people who have had major heart surgery. You may also feel lonely and envious of other people who are living their lives without the discomfort and pain that you are experiencing right now.
Remember that you are going to start feeling better very soon. You are working to get back to your life—a life that may be more comfortable than before. Your new life is one with bypassed coronary arteries and more blood flowing to your heart. What this means for you is that you will not experience the chest pain, shortness of breath, or other symptoms that you had before.
It can be important to keep your family and friends around you during your recovery. They can go on walks with you or just sit and chat. You can ask your family or friends to put your children, grandchildren, or pets in your lap so you can feel close to them. Even though you need to be careful of your chest wound, you should continue to be affectionate with your family and friends. Affection can improve your mood and make you feel less lonely.
If you think you might be depressed, talk to your doctor. The sooner you know if you are depressed, the sooner you can get treatment. Treating depression is good for your health. You doctor may refer you to another doctor who diagnoses and treats depression.
Your recovery at home after CABG surgery can be both physically and emotionally demanding. Knowing what to expect and what you can do to help your recovery can make it easier.
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