Do You Have to Diet Before or After Heart Surgery?

Heart surgery is one of the most critical types of operations that can be done on the human body, and it is usually only pursued if other, less aggressive treatments have been exhausted. To provide the optimum conditions for a successful procedure, preoperative and postoperative guidelines must be observed. One of those guidelines pertains to the patient’s diet. What to Eat Leading up to Surgery? Simply put, one of the biggest problems complicating heart surgery is obesity. The more overweight a patient is, the more difficult the recovery will be. Diets designed to help prepare a person for heart surgery, then, are often focused on losing weight. Time is of the essence, and the more time before surgery the patient has to focus on this goal, the better. If the patient has at least two weeks before heart surgery, they might benefit from emphasizing fruits, vegetables, low-fat protein, whole grains, and low sodium in their diet to help lose weight and lower blood pressure as much as possible. The total number of calories per day, on average, to consume pre-heart surgery is fairly low, at 1,200 to 1,800. Diet recommendations include more servings of fruits and vegetables than whole grains, proteins, or healthy fats. Restrictions are suggested for sweets, alcohol, and artificial sweeteners. What to Eat After Surgery? As with the pre-surgery diet, what to eat after surgery often leads to a leaner, heart-healthy diet. Recommended is a diet with extra omega 3 fatty acids, folate, vitamin K, magnesium, and unsaturated fats. On the other hand, it is not recommended that saturated and trans fats, high sodium foods, processed...

The Emotional Side Effects of Open-Heart Surgery

Open heart surgery is one of the most invasive and stressful procedures doctors perform. To expose the heart for major repairs, a long incision in the chest is made, the breast bone is broken, and a heart-lung machine is used to pump blood in place of the heart. All of this places great stress on your body. Open heart surgery is not minimally invasive heart surgery. Living with, and through, the physical effects of open-heart surgery can be daunting. Included are pain at the incision site, muscle pain, or throat pain. If you have chest tubes for drainage, those can also be uncomfortable. Despite the discomfort, post-surgical pain usually disappears after 6 – 8 weeks. However, other kinds of problems can linger? The emotional side effects of open-heart surgery might surprise you.   Personality and Emotional Changes People who have had open heart surgery report mood changes, as do people close to them. Anxiety and depression are the most commonly experienced emotions after heart surgery. Anxiety can be caused, in part, by worries about possible physical aftereffects of the surgery. Keep in mind that full recovery from open heart surgery can take up to one year. Patients who experience depression for more than several weeks after open-heart surgery may have something more than a typical, post-surgical mood change. One way to tell is if a person has difficulty in doing simple, daily tasks, like making their bed, getting and staying properly dressed, or keeping a routine. If an individual was instructed to do certain tasks after the surgery such as exercise, are they doing them? Has the person withdrawn...

What Is a Pulse Deficit?

A pulse deficit is a condition which affects the relationship between the pulse and heart. It can be very dangerous if not treated properly, so understanding what a pulse deficit is important. This is especially true if heart conditions run in the family. There is no need to worry, however. Once you know the symptoms of pulse deficit, it’ll be much easier to treat it appropriately. And, fortunately, there are many treatments for pulse deficit that are easily available. What is a Pulse Deficit? When the heart beats blood through the body, it can be felt as a pulse. This pulse is caused by the vibrations of the blood moving through the arteries. Typically, the pulse rate is in synchronization with the heartbeat. This means that every time the heart beats, there is a pulse rate. However, there are times when the heart beats faster than the pulse rate. When there are fewer pulses than heartbeats, a pulse deficit develops. This sometimes referred to as “irregular heartbeat” or “atypical pulse rate”. Causes of a Pulse Deficit There are many reasons why a pulse deficit may develop including: Heightened states of anxiety Following a period of exercise or other physical activity Situations of extreme or chronic pain Heavy blood loss Bodily Injury Low blood pressure or hypotension Heart disease Heart failure Overactive thyroid gland It’s also important to consider which heart valve needs replacing. If the mitral valve (valve responsible for closing off the upper left chamber of the heart) requires a replacement, a mechanical heart valve is said to last until age 70. However, if it’s the aortic valve...

Important Vitals You Should Know

How to Check Your Own Vitals The symptoms of heart problems can be subtle, which is why it’s so important to know how to check your own vitals. Knowing what’s average for your body gives you the knowledge you need in case of an emergency. For example, if your normal resting heart rate is 65 BPM, something may be wrong if your BPM is 80. Checking your own vitals takes just minutes and may give early knowledge of any potential problems. Resting Heart Rate To get an accurate picture of your resting heart rate, take your pulse several times over the course of a week. It’s best to take your pulse at the same time each day. Be sure to wait at least two hours after strenuous activity, consuming caffeine, or a stressful event to allow your heart rate to return fully to normal. Sit in a quiet space for several minutes to be sure your heart rate is in its resting state. Place your fingers against the side of your neck or your wrist to locate your pulse. Count the heartbeats for 15 seconds, and multiply that number by four. That will be your resting heart rate. Blood Pressure While blood pressure may not be considered vital, it’s a measurement that should be taken regularly to monitor your overall heart health. Blood pressure monitors are available from your local department or medical supply store quite inexpensively. Like resting heart rate, blood pressure should be taken at the same time each day, at a time when you can be at rest. Follow the instructions on the blood pressure monitor...

Coronary Bypass Surgery: Past, Present, and Future

Although some have described cardiac surgery as a dying specialty, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Cardiac surgery today is seeing astronomical growth with innovations in minimally invasive procedures. Therefore, cardiac surgery is not sliding into obsolescence; it’s simply becoming safer and less invasive. One area of cardiac surgery – coronary artery bypass – has seen significant growth in the past decade. From minimally invasive procedures to hybrid revascularization, coronary bypass surgery is becoming increasingly safer and more effective. It is also becoming far less painful and time-consuming than open-heart coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG). A Bit of History  In the 1950s, the advent of cardiopulmonary bypass was revolutionary for the field of cardiac surgery. The first successful open heart surgery utilizing a heart-lung machine was performed in 1953. The heart-lung machine – also known as a “pump” – allows for the heart to be stopped during surgery, as it circulates and oxygenates blood for the surgeon to work on a still heart that is empty of blood. However, what seemed to be an unending supply of patients contributed to what may have been innovative complacency. In due time, this self-assurance was shattered by the advent of percutaneous coronary intervention (non-surgical procedures that improve cardiac blood flow). These procedures were able to provide the same effects as CABG and greatly reduced the volume of coronary artery bypass surgeries. It also resulted in a decline in trainees in the field. These advances have been largely consumer-driven by a society that’s always on the go, so less invasive procedures mean faster recovery times. Coronary Bypass Surgery Today  While the...