Open-Heart Surgery: Preparation, Recovery, Risks

Open-heart surgery is a critical medical procedure to help patients with serious heart disease.

A model of the human heart

My father-in-law recently underwent open-heart surgery. He is a senior patient and was diagnosed with fecal impaction. My spouse is very much worried as this is a major surgery. Unlike him, I have high hopes that his dad will recover easily from the operation as it is a common one.

I’ve heard a lot of my friends’ parents going through open-heart surgery. Survival and recovery depend on their health conditions and preparations taken before the procedure. Preparations for this surgery are very crucial as it involves opening our chest and operations focused on our heart muscles, arteries, and valves. To learn more about heart surgery, let us have a closer look at this major medical procedure. 

A Closer Look at Open-Heart Surgery

Open-heart surgery is necessary for some patients who were diagnosed with coronary heart disease. The medical condition happens if the blood vessels where the oxygen and the blood pass through to get to the heart turn hard.

The narrowing of the blood vessels can be due to the build-up of fats that become plaque on the coronary arteries’ walls. When this occurs, the blood will have a hard time getting to the heart. This situation can also result in the occurrence of a heart attack.

Other scenarios when this medical procedure is needed

Medical experts commonly recommend this surgery to replace or even clean or repair the valves of our heart. It is also essential to address heart abnormalities. In some cases, heart transplants and medical device implant also call for this surgery.

As this medical procedure involves some risks, preparations are super important before undergoing it. Here are some ways that a patient can prepare oneself before being in this surgery.

Preparations to Take for the Medical Procedure

First things first. Once the doctor has recommended that you undergo this surgery, it is significant to inform him of the over-the-counter medications or any prescription drugs that you are taking. It is also essential to let your doctor know about your herbs and vitamins. This will help him assess the risks of the surgery.

Secondly, it is also advantageous to discuss your lifestyle to your physician. If you are smoking, please stop this two weeks at the latest before you undergo the procedure. Alcohol consumption can also have some negative effects on you. Discuss this with your doctor as the last thing that you want to happen during the operation is you experience alcohol withdrawal as it can put your life at risk.

As for the preparations that your doctor will recommend, here are some of the things that you want to remember. Your doctor will request you to wash yourself of a special antibacterial soap. This soap will help eliminate skin bacteria, thus decreasing the odds of having surgical infections. Your doctor will also not allow you to drink or eat hours before your scheduled operation.

Possible Complications or Risks Associated With Open-Heart Surgery

Like other major surgeries, this medical procedure has risks as well as possible complications that every patient and their loved ones should know. Chest wound infections are common to patients diagnosed with diabetes or obesity, c. Other complications that they should be aware of are the development of blood clot as well as having blood loss. Stroke, heart attack, lung failure, kidney failure, pneumonia, and irregular heartbeat are also serious and life-threatening complications to know. As for the minor conditions, memory loss, low fever, breathing difficulty and fuzziness may occur. Above all, it is also good to know that the University of Chicago Medicine’s Heart and Vascular Center reminds patients that this procedure may put them at risk for some neurological problems.

Heart Surgery Recover Plan

To prevent the risks or complications from worsening, there are some recovery actions that patients need to do. Families or loved ones of those who have undergone the operation should keep the incision clean and dry at all times. Caregivers must always wash their hands before cleaning or observing the incision.

Once the incision is looking good, meaning it is healing as expected. If drainage is not seen, then it is the right time to take a shower. However, as a reminder, taking a bath should not exceed 10 minutes. Also please clean oneself with lukewarm water. When it comes to the incision, ensure that the water is not hitting it directly.

Knowing the infection signs are important to prevent them from turning into life-threatening situations. Oozing, drainage and incision site opening are among those that we are to watch for. Fever and red looking incision are also to be addressed immediately.

Aside from taking care of your incision, patients should also have all the rest that they need to speed up their recovery. To lessen the muscle strains that you may be experiencing, it is important to carefully arrange the pillows that you will be using. To have at least eight hours of sleep, pain prescriptions should be taken by patients 30 minutes before bedtime.

Last but not least, anxiety and depression are common complications or effects of the surgery. When you experience this, it is best to seek help from a therapist as soon as possible.

Do not be afraid or worried about undergoing open-heart surgery. True enough there are complications and risks with this medical operation. But, bear in mind that most of the time this is the solution to the patient’s medical challenge. What is important is that the patient is prepared thoroughly mentally and physically before the operation to ensure fast recovery from the operation.

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