When you wake up after surgery, you will have two or three tubes in your chest. These are to help drain fluid from the area around your heart. You may have intravenous (IV) lines in your arm to supply you with fluids, as well as a catheter (thin tube) in your bladder to remove urine.
You will also be attached to machines that monitor your heart. Nurses will be nearby to help you if something should arise.
You will usually spend your first night in the intensive care unit (ICU). You will then be moved to a regular care room for the next three to seven days.
Recovery, follow-up, and what to expect
Taking care of yourself at home immediately after the surgery is an essential part of your recovery.
Incision care is extremely important. Keep your incision site warm and dry, and wash your hands before and after touching it. If your incision is healing properly and there is no drainage, you can take a shower. The shower shouldn’t be more than 10 minutes with warm (not hot) water. You should ensure that the incision site isn’t hit directly by the water. It’s also important to regularly inspect your incision sites for signs of infection, which include:
increased drainage, oozing, or opening from the incision site
redness around the incision
warmth along the incision line
Pain management is also incredibly important, as it can increase recovery speed and decrease the likelihood of complications like blood clots or pneumonia. You may feel muscle pain, throat pain, pain at incision sites, or pain from chest tubes. Your doctor will likely prescribe pain medication that you can take at home. It’s important that you take it as prescribed. Some doctors recommend taking the pain medication both before physical activity and before you sleep.
Get enough sleep
Some patients experience trouble sleeping after open-heart surgery, but it’s important to get as much rest as possible. To get better sleep, you can:
take your pain medication a half hour before bed
arrange pillows to decrease muscle strain
avoid caffeine, especially in the evenings
In the past, some have argued that open-heart surgery leads to a decline in mental functioning. However, most recent research has found that not to be the case. Though some patients may have open-heart surgery and experience mental decline later on, it’s thought that this is most likely due to the natural effects of aging.
Some people do experience depression or anxiety after open-heart surgery. A therapist or psychologist can help you manage these effects.
Most people who’ve had a CABG benefit from participating in a structured, comprehensive rehabilitation program. This is usually done outpatient with visits several times a week. The components to the program include exercise, reducing risk factors, and dealing with stress, anxiety, and depression.