Facing heart surgery can be a challenging experience. Good preparation not only maximizes your chances for a fast recovery, it helps to calm the nerves and provide you with a sense of control over what’s happening. Follow your doctor’s instructions carefully for the best possible outcome from your procedure.
Cut out Nicotine and Alcohol
Quit smoking, and avoid alcohol for at least two weeks before your surgery. Nicotine and alcohol both inhibit healing. Alcohol impairs the immune system, liver function, and natural blood coagulation. Nicotine reduces the amount of oxygen your blood is able to carry to the cells.
Take Deep Breaths
If your care team has given you a device called an incentive spirometer, use it and use it often. The device is designed to help you take slow, deep breaths, which improve lung function. Begin using the device as early as possible before your surgery, and use it as often as possible to reduce your chances of pneumonia and other post-surgical breathing problems.
Visit Your Dentist
If you have any cavities or other dental work that needs to be done, do it sooner rather than later. Discuss any dental work you’ll need to have done with your surgeon well ahead of time. Abscesses and infected teeth can create an infection in the heart’s lining, so your surgeon may require that you have any dental work completed before scheduling your heart surgery.
Prepare the Family
Finally, it may be helpful to have one family member who will act as an information relay for friends and family. Because of privacy concerns, your medical team will be unable to release information to anyone not previously designated as a contact. By appointing one person, like your spouse or child, as a family contact, you can relay relevant information to concerned relatives efficiently, making your post heart surgery recovery less stressful.
If you have any other questions regarding the days before your surgery or the surgery itself, don’t hesitate to contact us!