History and Benefits of Bloodless Heart Surgery

Bloodless surgery is quickly becoming a common procedure in major hospitals and healthcare centers around the world. Methods for blood management and conservation have become considerably more efficient and effective with the advent of new surgical tools and medications that boost red blood cell production. Twenty years ago, patients wishing to forgo a blood transfusion in favor of a bloodless surgery only had a handful of medical programs in the U.S. to choose from. Today, there are more than 200 bloodless medicine programs around the country.

One operation in particular that is being performed more frequently without blood transfusions is open heart surgery. As with any cardiothoracic surgery, open heart surgery is an extremely complex procedure that requires an experienced surgeon. In the past 40 years, many cardiothoracic surgeons have been adopting blood management and conservation techniques when performing these surgeries. A bloodless heart operation can actually lessen the complexity of the surgery and reduce the overall patient recovery times.

History of Bloodless Heart Surgery –

Although the basic principles of bloodless medicine have been around for nearly a century, these methods were only first applied to heart surgery in the past 40 to 50 years. In the early 1960s, a heart surgeon in Texas began treating Jehovah’s Witnesses in need of open heart surgery with bloodless methods and techniques. Jehovah’s Witnesses are unable to receive blood transfusions for religious reasons and needed an alternative procedure.

Other heart surgeons began to take notice. In 1973, a cardiothoracic surgery team in Los Angeles reported performing bloodless heart surgery on most of its patients, citing a less complicated procedure that reduced the risk for infection and increased patient recovery times. Soon, hospitals and healthcare centers all over the world were performing bloodless open heart surgeries, referred to as “bloodless hearts.”

Benefits of Bloodless Heart Surgery –

Bloodless heart surgeries have many advantages over traditional open heart procedures requiring blood transfusions. Many of these advantages are due to technological advances that have been made in the past few decades; blood management is easier and more efficient, minimally invasive surgical techniques are more precise, and patient monitoring equipment is more advanced.

Benefits of bloodless heart surgery include:

Reduced Risk of Infection – By applying advanced blood management and conservation techniques, blood transfusions are not necessary. Eliminating the need for a transfusion eliminates the risk for the patient becoming infected by diseases that can be transmitted through donated blood.

Less Complicated Procedure – By eliminating the need for one or even multiple blood transfusions, several additional risks and complications are also avoided, including negative immune responses, lung inflammation, and allergic reactions. Bloodless surgery can also be performed without the need for a cardiopulmonary bypass – commonly referred to as a heart-lung machine.

Faster Recovery Times – A less complicated procedure ultimately means a quicker patient recovery. Even without complications, a blood transfusion can require lengthy in-hospital recovery times (depending on the patient and the specific procedure).

Today, transfusion free cardiothoracic surgery is performed at some of the largest hospitals and healthcare systems in the U.S. Still, the procedure is by no means widespread. Only the best and highest rated hospitals are able to offer the procedure. If you are a cardiac patient who will need to schedule an open heart or other cardiothoracic surgery, contact your local hospital to see if bloodless surgery is available.

Norman A. Smyke Jr, MD, is a board certified specialist in Anesthesiology and is the director of the Center for Blood Conservation at Grant. Dr. Smyke oversees the first bloodless medicine program in Columbus, Ohio and outlying areas to provide formally recognized blood management services, including bloodless surgery.

Categories: health

Preparing For Your Child’s Open Heart Surgery

I have walked down a hospital hall and handed my child over to a capable physician twice for open heart surgery. I have watched as she was taken beyond the yellow and black line that separated her from myself and felt the awful pit in my stomach. I have waited with the knowledge that I am helpless to do anything for her. Turning your child over to a physician for any medical procedure is hard; turning your child over for a life-threatening surgery is something you can not put into words.

Can you prepare for that? No. Nothing you do can prepare you for the emotional toll, the hours of waiting in an operating room, the nerve-wracking havoc tugging at your heart and mind. Although emotional preparation may not be possible, education is. Knowledge is power in the world of Congenital Heart Defects (CHD). The more knowledge you have, the less helpless you feel. It is usually fairly easy to gain knowledge on the “basics” of your child’s CHD and the surgical procedure they will go through. What is not always easy is getting the knowledge you need that will prepare you the best. Knowledge that can help you and knowledge that can help your child can make open heart surgery and recovery a little less stressful.

This is my list of preparation advice for those facing open heart surgery with a child.

* Learn all you can about the hospital, surgical procedure, surgeon, and preferred treatment of cardiac patients. Hospitals are all different. You may know someone who has been through this before and feel ready; however, it may surprise you how different your experience turns out. It is important for you to understand how your hospital works. Some hospitals are more likely to use newer methods of treatment, surgery, or respiratory therapy. Anesthesia care and techniques differ widely. Does your hospital have a PICU, ICU, or CICU? Where do you wait during surgery? How long until you will be allowed to see your child after surgery? This list is just a tiny fraction of all the things that differ from hospital to hospital. You should find out so you are not surprised by any of these things. Do your research on hospitals and their surgery protocol just as you would your child’s condition.

* Be aware of how your child will look after surgery. With my daughter’s first open heart surgery, we had friends who showed us photos of their daughter immediately following surgery. We stared at the photos as they explained all the tubes, cords, IV’s, medicines and more. Although our daughter did not look exactly the same, we were better prepared for what we saw when we walked in the ICU. We recognized her knees down to her toes and her beautiful eyes to the top of her head, otherwise, she was completely covered in tubes, wires, bandages, and tape. For us, it was still hard to see but not nearly as hard as those who came to visit her who had no idea she would look like she did. Conduct an online search for open heart surgery images to prepare you. Study the pictures. If you know someone that has been through it, you can ask them to explain what all the lines and tubes and equipment are for. It won’t make it easier to see, but it will definitely take the horror out of it.

* Learn ways of calming and soothing your child. This can be invaluable to you and your child. Knowing you can calm them down and that they are as comforted as possible will make you feel useful and reassured. Talk to your child, even when they seem asleep or incoherent. Your voice will soothe them. Touch them often even if they are sleeping or sedated. Run your hands through their hair, rub their hands and feet, and anywhere else that is free to touch. Study up on Pressure Point massage. Using a reflexology foot chart will help you understand how to rub to help ease pain in certain areas of the body. My daughter loved foot rubs and hand rubs as a baby and adolescent while recovering from her surgeries. We found a lotion that smelled good and rubbed it into her feet and hands. Music therapy or playing music can also soothe and comfort some children. Classical music, easy listening, or other soothing music can help your child. If they are used to hearing it before surgery, they often respond favorably to it during recovery. Anything that calms your child should be used in the hospital to help them through their traumatic experience.

* Know what to expect during recovery. Every recovery is different and every child is different but, knowing what might happen or what happens to many patients may help. Recovery for a baby is markedly different than recovery for a child, teen, or adult. Many babies are kept sedated for longer periods of time and on the ventilator longer. Additionally, their hearts don’t have much room to swell so their chests may be kept “open” for a time. The faraway stares and non-responsive behavior is normal when coming off sedation. Problems may also come up with feeding issues, either refusing to eat or not being able to nurse because of the drainage tubes. Deciding before hand how to handle the feeding issues, especially if nursing, is important. Do you want them to try bottles? The sooner they eat the sooner they go home; however, this meant giving up nursing for me before I was really ready. Many children also suffer sleep issues. They may not want to sleep or may have hard times sleeping. Their sleep cycles will be interrupted. Finding things to help them sleep, a favorite toy or blanket, can be a lifesaver.

* Prepare for the emotional toll of open heart surgery on older children. Many children suffer depression after open heart surgery. The pain of having drainage tubes removed, lines pulled, and pain at the incision site and sternum add to this depression. Be prepared for the emotional toll. This depression can last for three to four weeks after the surgery. Allow the patient to feel however they are feeling. Validate their pain, anger, sadness, and frustrations and let them know it is okay for them to feel that way. Additionally, some patients may suffer from anxiety issues. My daughter’s anxiety in the hospital was severe. She suffered full blown attacks that raised her heart rate and breathing rates and made her feel like she could not breathe. Your child may suffer anxiety attacks as a natural reaction of being in the hospital and enduring such a serious surgery. Other emotions may also be felt. Anger, sadness, apathy, phobias, or feelings of being overwhelmed may all be experienced. All these emotional ups and downs are normal and don’t have to surprise you. If you have a plan and know how to deal with them you and your child can make it through surgery and recovery.

This list can help you prepare, in a small way, for the mountain ahead of you. While nothing can fully prepare you, you can be prepared for some of it, and help your child through it.

Nicole Wardell is a freelance writer who writes online blog articles for a non profit organization raising awareness for congenital heart defects. Nicole earned her Associates Degree from Weber State University in 2000 and is currently completing her BA degree in English from American Public University. She is mother to four children. Her oldest daughter was born with a congenital heart defect and has required two open heart surgeries.

Categories: health

What You Should Expect Having Open Heart Surgery: A Patient’s Perspective

Having open heart surgery can be frightening, but sometimes there is no other choice. Heart surgery can resolve various heart conditions that would otherwise be fatal. There are various solutions to correct defective heart valves, repair aneurysms, unclog or bypass arteries, implant stents, and in the most critical cases replace an entire heart. Some people are diagnosed with a heart condition and plan their open heart surgery on their terms while others are subjected to emergency surgery to save their lives. People have different opinions on which circumstances are worse psychologically; to have the foresight of surgery in advance or to be thrust into the situation with no time to contemplate it. Sometimes the patients who know about the surgery ahead of time can feel scared, restless, angry, or depressed in the days leading up to the surgery. These healthy individuals who are diagnosed by surprise with a heart ailment seem to have the hardest time coming to terms with eminent open heart surgery. It’s harder for them to wrap their head around then for example a smoker who has not taken care of themselves. Age can also influence how a patient deals with a diagnosis. Young adults seem to have a harder time coping with it psychologically than elders. Also notable is that survivors of emergency open heart surgery can often have a harder time psychologically in recovery than those who had a planned operation.

Everyone is different, but below is generally what you can expect with open heart surgery. You’ll want to get your affairs in order ahead of time and plan in advance to have a stress free recovery. Many heart patients experience a period of deep introspection in the days before open heart surgery. You may question the meaning of life, why this happened to you, and you will undoubtedly want to spend quality time with your family. The evening before your open heart surgery is an important time to be spent quietly and intimately with your family.

You’ll skip breakfast on the morning of your open heart surgery and won’t eat anything. You’ll also shower with a special “sanitizing” soap provided by your surgeon. When you arrive at the hospital you will report to an administrative check-in where you will be required to fill out some documents. You will then have your vitals taken, and shortly thereafter you’ll be sent to the cardio-thoracic surgery unit. In a good hospital your family will be allowed to accompany you. When you arrive there will be numerous doctors and nurses present, as well as your anesthesiologist. They will take your vitals again, and when your surgeon arrives they will brief you and your family on the details of the actual open heart surgery. The anesthesiologist will tell you how things will go with putting you to sleep, as well as what to expect when you wake up afterward. Your surgeon will give you a rundown of everything and give you a chance to ask any remaining questions you might have. When they’re finished talking to you and your family, your anesthesiologist will likely put an IV in each arm while you are still awake. They use these to administer anesthesia and other medicine once you’re on the operating table.

Next you will say your goodbyes and a nurse will lead you to the operating room. The operating room will be brilliantly lit. The operating table is typically a slightly padded table on a pedestal that looks just the right size to hold your body and nothing more. There are no railings, obstructions, or legs on the corners of the table. Bright lights beam on it from every direction making it the center of attention. These tables look kind of like an ironing board. Alongside it are surgical tools laid out in an obsessively organized fashion. By now there are usually a bunch of other doctors and nurses in the room that will have various responsibilities during the surgery. They will ask you to climb onto the table and lay down. Nurses will start connecting you with various wires, and you may be asked to sign a waiver so that a representative from a medical equipment company can observe the surgery. Don’t panic, it’s tacky, but it’s a common practice and believe it or not is essential to new technology. Soon the anesthesiologist will begin to administer your initial anesthesia. Your surgeon may give you a final acknowledgement as you begin to feel drowsy, and before you know it you’ll be in a deep sleep. At that time the crew will continue connecting wires, inserting tubes (your urinary catheter, swans catheter, and later your breathing tube and more). You will be unconscious for the rest of the surgery, but in a good hospital the staff will give your family regular updates on how things are going. Occasionally patients speak of having unusually vivid dreams, or an outer body experience, but most people simply sleep. When the surgery is finished your surgeon will come out and brief your family, and soon after they will be allowed to see you in the recovery room.

You will most likely still be unconscious when your family sees you for the first time in the recovery room. You will probably still have a breathing tube in, and it may be a little scary for them to see you this way. Most patients claim their first memory after surgery is when the breathing tube is pulled out. You’ll be heavily sedated but you’ll probably hear a nurse inform you that they’re going to pull out your breathing tube. You’ll cough for a few moments as they pull it out, and your mouth will feel annoyingly hot and dry. You’ll be very thirsty but the nurse will only be able to offer you a wet swab on your lips and tongue until you are a little more alert at which time they may offer you ice chips. The amount of pain felt varies from patient to patient, but generally most heart surgery patients do not feel much pain due to the significant amount of drugs they are on. Generally speaking, patients say afterwards that the pain was much less than they thought it would be.

You will be on a lot of pain drugs in your first days in recovery. You’ll probably have a morphine drip that you can administer yourself by pressing a button when you’re in pain. There are automatically regulated limits to how much you can pump into yourself so you don’t have to worry about pressing the button too often. Hospital stays vary widely after open heart surgery depending on which procedure you have. You will sleep quite a bit and be loopy for the next few days. Around this time you’ll probably notice your incision as well as some bumps underneath it. The bumps are from the titanium wire they used to mend your ribs back together after surgery. They don’t really cause any harm and aren’t really noticeable unless you run your finger over them. Most heart scars fade away pretty nicely, and faster than expected. Your head will feel hazy due to the medications, and from the broad effects of surgery and being on the heart-lung(bypass) machine. After a few days you will be pushed to get out of bed and begin walking. Initially a short walk to the bathroom will seem like climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, but shortly thereafter you’ll be able to do it with no problem. You will start to walk the halls of the unit with your physical therapist. Your newfound fear of coughing, laughing, and sneezing, is normal, and you’ll probably be given a stuffed animal or something to hold against your chest when you do. This will counteract the pressure generated and make it more comfortable. Another thing you will dread is having your first bowel movement, but they won’t let you go home until you do. When you finally do have that special moment you will be pretty close to going home if all else is up to par. You’re not out of the woods when you leave to go home. It’s a big milestone, but care must be taken to follow your transition plan and stay in a positive state of mind.

Even though you’ll want to; the last thing you should do is go home and lay on the sofa every day. There are many things that can happen after heart surgery, arrhythmias, atrial flutter, low hemoglobin levels or blood issues, and many more that could warrant a return to the hospital. Having a positive attitude during any setbacks is the single most effective thing you can do to keep things moving along. Stay positive because once you get home your real recovery work begins.

Categories: health

Side Effects After Open Heart Surgery

Open heart surgery is required to repair a number of common heart ailments, including blocked arteries and related heart problems. The procedure is conducted with the aid of a heart-lung machine which carries out important bodily functions while the heart is being operated upon.

While open heart surgery is a very serious type of surgery, it is also one of the most commonly-performed operations in advanced countries and has a very high overall survival rate. Here are some considerations and side effects if you are to undergo surgery:

At The Hospital:

You should not eat or drink within eight hours of the scheduled surgery time. Patients are usually admitted on the morning of the surgery.

After surgery, you will be monitored in the cardiac intensive care unit (ICU) and later on the general floor of the hospital. Hospital stays after surgery are usually 3 to 4 days.

Recovery Times:

Recovery times for full open heart surgery may be 6 to 12 weeks or more. However, recovery for off-pump surgery and minimally-invasive heart surgery may take much less time.

Side Effects After Open Heart Surgery:

People who have undergone or are about to undergo heart surgery are often concerned about the side effects after open heart surgery. Here are some of the most common side-effects, all of which are normal and NOT a cause for alarm in most cases:

* muscle pain
* chest pain
* swelling (especially if you have an incision in your leg from coronary artery bypass grafting, or CABG
* loss of appetite: it can take several weeks for your appetite to return * diminished sense of taste: your sense of taste will return in time
* nausea upon smelling food: many patients get nauseous upon smelling food; this is common and will dissipate
* difficulty sleeping: you may have trouble falling asleep, or you may wake up regularly in the middle of the night; this will get better over time
* constipation: take a laxative and add fruits, fiber and juice to your diet
* mood swings: mild depression is normal during this period
* swelling, especially when there has been an incision in your leg
* lump at top of incision: again, this will go away with time
* clicking noise or feeling in your chest: this, too, will go away on its own; if it gets worse, contact your surgeon

While all of these side effects are normal and should go away with time, do not hesitate to contact your doctor if you are concerned or are facing an emergency.

Medicine Side Effects:

There are also a number of possible side effects after surgery related to the medicines you take for surgery. If you experience any of the following side-effects, you SHOULD contact your physician right away:

* excessive nausea, diarrhea, constipation, or stomach pain
* vomiting
* dizziness or light-headedness when standing up
* confusion
* very fast or very slow pulse
* skin rash
* unusual burning or bleeding

Self-Care, Including Diet:

It is important to strictly follow your doctor’s instructions after surgery concerning your self-care, especially during the first 6-12 weeks after surgery.

One of the most important elements to consider after open heart surgery – both during the recovery period and for the rest of your life – is how you eat. It is important to eat heart-healthy foods, such as those rich in fiber and low in fats.

Most side-effects after heart surgery are completely normal. If you experience any side effects of particular concern that are not outlined here it is essential that you contact your doctor right away.

Categories: health

Sleeping After Open Heart Surgery – 5 Tips

Open heart surgery is one of the more serious types of surgery you can undergo. And yet, with today’s surgical technology and well-trained doctors, survival rates are amazingly high. Most open heart surgery patients enjoy a full recovery and, as a result of the surgery, longer lives.

Heart surgery involves the surgeons making one or more relatively large incisions in the chest so that they can gain access to the heart cavity. The relatively high level of invasiveness of this type of surgery translates to longer recovery times than for most other types of surgery.

The recovery time after open heart surgery can be 6-8 weeks or longer. During this time, some patients find that they have trouble sleeping. This is due to a combination of the effects of anesthesia, pain or discomfort in the area of the incisions, the post-surgery changes to daily routine, and new types of stress.

If you are having trouble sleeping after surgery, here are 5 tips that can help:

1. Avoid napping during the day: When possible, try to avoid napping. Instead, go to be at the same time each night and get a full night’s sleep.

2. Take your doctor-prescribed medication about 30 minutes before going to bed: Your body likes routines. Take your medication at the same time each night, just before bed.

3. Talk to someone about anything that is troubling you: An amazing amount of stress relief can occur when we talk things out. Find a trusted friend, family member, or social worker with whom you can talk out your problems.

4. Try taking a slow, relaxing shower: Showers are a great way to reduce stress and get the body ready for sleep.

5. Adjust your body position, using pillows if necessary: When in bed, use pillows to prop up certain parts of your body. And, change positions until you find one that feels comfortable.

Getting a good night’s sleep – along with proper diet and daily habits – after open heart surgery is essential for your healing process. Follow these 5 tips to increase your chances of getting the sleep you need.

Categories: health

Returning to Work After Open Heart Surgery – 7 Tips

Heart surgery – or cardiac surgery – is simply surgery that is performed on the heart and the great vessels around the heart. It one of the treatment options that doctors recommend for ischemic heart disease (reduced blood flow to the heart), congenital heart defects (those defects present at birth), or valvular heart disease (defects of the heart valves). It is also involved in heart transplantation.

There are two main types of cardiac surgery: open heart surgery and beating-heart surgery. In the case of open heart surgery, the chest cavity itself is opened up so that the heart can be accessed directly. A third type, robotic surgery, involves a minimal incision and is becoming more common.


Due to great advances in cardiac surgery technology and techniques, the survival rate is 97% to 98%. However, there are some risks, including stroke, which occurs in 2% to 3% of cardiac surgery patients.

Another not-uncommon risk of surgery is something called postperfusion syndrome (a.k.a. pumphead). The symptoms of this syndrome are neurological in nature and can include subtle effects related to attention, concentration, short term memory and motor function. The good news is that these effects are not permanent and go away with time.

Recovery Period

Given the large size of the incision required for open heart surgery, recovery can take 6 to 8 weeks. Recovery is sped up by:

* keeping the incision dry

* avoiding cleaning agents around the incision, apart from soap and water

* eating a healthy diet to aid in the healing process

* during bathing, it is okay to allow the incision to get wet, but avoid prolonged submersion or direct contact with the jet spray of a showerhead

Returning to Work after Open Heart Surgery

While the general recovery period for this type of surgery is 6 to 8 weeks, your recovery period will depend in part upon how you take care of yourself after surgery. Tips for returning to work faster include:

1. Increase your physical activity levels (including sex) little by little

2. Avoid lifting heavy objects, such as those over twenty pounds

3. Do not hold your arms above your shoulders or head for more than 20 seconds or so

4. Pace yourself as you perform various activities throughout the day

5. Take walks every day

6. Be sure to get a good night’s sleep

7. Avoid excessive napping during the day just to make up for a poor night’s sleep

Follow these tips and you will increase your chances of returning to work faster after heart surgery.

Categories: health

Tips to Help You During Heart Surgery Recovery

If you need to undergo heart surgery, you may be worried about the recovery period afterward. The length of it will likely depend on the specific type of operation you are having, as well as the condition it is treating. You should listen to your doctor when it comes to getting ready for the healing period, but he or she might not tell you a few details that could help as you recover.

You will likely need a caregiver for at least the first few weeks after heart surgery. This is because you can expect to need to rest or even sleep a lot. Plus, you may be on pain medications that make you drowsy and barely able to function normally as your body heals itself. This is why you should get a friend or relative to help you throughout the day. He or she would ideally stay with you at all times, but if that is not possible, he or she should check on you frequently as you recover. You can also hire a professional caregiver temporarily, which your insurance may help pay for.

Rest is not the only important aspect of the recovery period for heart surgery. If you want to heal properly, you will need to eat a healthy diet. Since it can be hard to cook for yourself while you recover, you should have your caregiver prepare meals or at least plan easy meals for you to cook. Many patients also find it a good idea to tell their loved ones about the operation ahead of time so people can bring them meals as they recover. There are even entire websites people can use to sign up to bring recovering patients dinner every night of the week so they do not have to cook for weeks.

You will be advised to limit your activity as you heal. You will likely be told by your doctor not to lift items that weigh more than ten pounds, nor should you push or pull anything heavy. Even driving and standing in one spot for more than 15 minutes is often not recommended. However, you can usually ride in a car when someone else drives, which is good since you will have some follow-up doctor appointments after heart surgery.

You can ask your surgeon for specific instructions after the operation. But some doctors forget to advise patients on a few particular details, which is why paying attention to tips can help. If you are ever in doubt about whether you can do something after heart surgery, you should call your doctor.

Categories: health

What to Expect During Your Heart Surgery Recovery

When preparing for surgery, it is wise to know what to expect from cardiac hospitals. Many people are mostly nervous about the surgery and preparation for it. Care should be taken beforehand to make blood donations for emergencies, provide an accurate list of all medications, and have a good understanding of what will happen during the procedure. While the surgery itself can last a few hours, much of the time is spent during recovery. Knowing what to expect is important so the patient and family can prepare themselves and their home, and the patient can make the best recovery possible. Everyone involved will receive instruction about what to do and to avoid for the six to eight weeks it could take to recover.

Manage pain

Pain is to be expected after surgery. The body has undergone trauma and will react to the incision site. The staff at cardiac hospitals will provide necessary prescriptions and instruction on ways to deal with it. Pain can manifest in the muscle all over the body or in the soft tissues around the incision site. There can also be numbness or itching involved. If the pain becomes too much to bear, then a doctor should be asked for recommendations to help provide relief, until the tissue can heal. However, keep in mind that many pain medications have sever side effects if abused beyond the prescription guidelines. It is important to follow the instruction of the doctor.

Promote healing

Some medical professionals recommend eating a healthy diet to aid in recovery. Cardiac hospitals can provide a list of meal planning options. If the appetite is suppressed, try feeding the patient smaller meals more often, but keep encouraging them to eat well. Common sense dictates that doing physical therapy to increase muscle tone can help the body heal and reduce pain more quickly. It is also important to not lift too much or over stress the incision site soon after the procedure. Sleep can also help the body heal. It might be difficult for the patient to get comfortable, but added pillows, soft music, maintaining a sleep schedule, and avoiding stimulants can all help them relax enough to rest.

Avoid infection

The most successful surgeries are those that avoid infection. The surgeons at cardiac hospitals will follow the strictest guidelines to keep a sterile environment for the surgery. However, when the patient returns home, there are innumerable ways the incision can be compromised. It is important to be gentile with the incision site and keep it clean and dry. The doctors and nurses can instruct on proper wound care methods. Contact the medical team immediately if any symptoms of infection appear, such as a raised temperature, gaping, drainage, redness, or warmth around the incision area.

Stay positive

Major surgeries often bring depressed feelings for both the patient and the caregiver. Worrying about the future, frustration with a slow healing process, and feeling pain are big contributors. It is important to beat the blues by maintaining daily activities, like getting dressed, going for walks, and participating in hobbies. One of the best ways for everyone to stay positive is simply to sharing feelings with each other. By utilizing the support network of friends and family, fears can be eased through the compassion and positive success stories.

Remember to check with your doctor before taking any medical remedy or treatment.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/8782919
Categories: health

Heart Surgery Recovery

Undergoing heart surgery can be likened to running a marathon without training. It has a huge impact not only on the body but also the mind and emotions. Heart surgery recovery time is different for everyone, but knowing what to expect during that period of recovery can help ease the worry and help give the necessary confidence to resume a healthy and energetic life.

On returning home from the hospital, speedy recovery from heart surgery can be helped by adherence to a few simple rules:

Once out of hospital, you should aim to take your temperature every morning for the first week of your heart surgery recovery and contact your doctor if your temperature stays above 101 degrees F for more than a day.

You should avoid lifting anything greater than 10 pounds while your breastbone (sternum) is healing and refrain from pushing or pulling activities with your arms.

You will be able to take a shower but should avoid taking a hot bath for approximately 4 – 6 weeks or until your wound is healed. You may wash your incision gently with soap but do not rub and do not use any creams or lotions on the wound until it is completely healed.

You will not be able to drive a car for the first 4-6 weeks during your heart surgery recovery as your reactions will be a lot slower due to weakness, tiredness and/or medication. Additionally, you do not want to risk hitting the steering wheel and reopening your wound. You are advised to avoid long car journeys but if unavoidable, ensure that you stop every 1-2 hours in order to stretch your legs. This will help to improve the circulation in your legs and prevent any swelling.

Try not to cross your legs while sitting or lying in bed as this puts pressure on the veins under the knees slowing the blood flow. If your legs or feet start to swell, lift them onto a chair or stool while you’re sitting.

Pushing/pulling heavy objects; working with your arms overhead or straining to move your bowels should be avoided as these activities can disproportionately increase blood pressure and put an added strain on a healing heart.

It is important to listen to your body and pace your activities to minimize fatigue. If you begin to feel tired, stop and rest for a while; don’t push yourself to finish a task.

You should aim to rest twice a day when first out of the hospital and thereafter at least once a day for the next few weeks.

Make sure you use your elastic stocking during the day for at least 2 weeks after your discharge from the hospital as they will help your blood flow and reduce swelling in your legs.

You may have a swelling or lump at the top of your chest wound. This is normal and usually disappears after a few months.

Many people experience discomfort from the incision in their breast bone, and, although this will decrease with time, you may experience re-occurrences along with changes in the weather or if you over tax yourself. Make sure that you take pain relieving medication when you need it. (It is very important to differentiate discomfort from your chest incision from actual chest pain and you should contact your doctor if you’re experiencing any chest pain).

If your chest or leg wounds do not look as if they are healing (for example you are having problems with redness; drainage; swelling or tenderness) you should get in touch with your doctor.

Check your weight every day for the first 2 weeks and if you notice a sudden gain, get in touch with your doctor.

Try to avoid situations, people or topics of conversation that are likely to make you tense or angry as your heart has to work harder when you’re upset.

Your diet, medications and exercise have been prescribed specifically for you so do not worry if you have a friend or neighbor with a heart condition who has been given different prescriptions.

When traveling, make sure that you keep a record of the medication you’re taking and also your medical history.

Remember, heart surgery recovery takes time and may involve changes in lifestyle and habits, not just for you but also for your family and close friends. It is vitally important that you share your feelings and discuss ongoing issues with those closest to you as open communication can minimize misunderstandings and help to ensure a smoother transition for everyone involved.

Our site contains a wealth of information on both heart bypass and gastric bypass surgery. If you are planning on or have already had either of these serious operations, you need to stay informed to reach your long term goals.

Categories: health

Heart Healthy Diet Tips

Modern lifestyle is the cause of a serious, epidemic problem that affects our society today: heart disease and stroke. In America half of all deaths are from coronary heart disease, most of them with advanced atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries).

The first report of coronary artery disease in America was published in 1912 in ‘The Journal of the American Medical Association by Dr. James Herrick.

The disease was so rare that famous cardiologist DR. Paul Dudley White, spent the next 10 years searching for it and found only three cases. Today we have thousands of cases in any small city. In the same medical journal 77 years later, on July 7 1989, a nationwide analysis showed that 60 million American adults aged 20 – 90 now have coronary disease to some degree.

There is no longer any doubt that the wanton destruction of our food, air and water and the inept and corrupt work of our health authorities created this monster and it’s alive and growing in every third one of us. Humbug physicians will object that cardiovascular disease is declining, because modern medicine has become so wonderful at detecting it early and treating it successfully. Don’t believe them!

Even advanced cardiovascular disease is very difficult to detect.

Dr. Lewis Kuller, for example, analyzed records of 326 people who died of sudden heart attacks,all of whom had received medical examinations within six months before death. Eighty-six of the subjects had received medical examinations within 7 days of their death. Not a single one of the heart attacks had been predicted by their physicians.

If you are fortunate enough to have cardiovascular disease correctly diagnosed before it manifests as a heart attack or stroke, then surely modern treatment can tackle it? No way! Most medial therapies for cardiovascular disease are simply symptomatic relief, that does nothing to reverse or even arrest the disease process.

Has the modern electronic bypass wizardry done a better job than the 100-year- old traditional advice to cut the fat in your diet and go for a daily walk?

The American government Coronary Artery Surgery Study spent 24 million dollars to find out.

Their studies examined records of 16,626 angiogram patients. From these records researchers selected 780 patients with good heart function, but a significant blockage of one or more coronary arteries.

Half the patients were given bypass surgery plus drugs. The other half were treated with nutritional and lifestyle changes plus drugs. Bypass surgery conferred no advantage at all, neither in longevity nor in incidence of future heart attacks.

What if you avoid surgery and just use our wonderful new drugs instead? I wouldn’t.

The Johns Hopkins Medical Letter reports on fatal drug reactions in hospitals, where you would think medical expertise would protect you or at least could save you if a drug reaction occurs. Prescribed hospital drugs are so toxic, they kill 130,000 Americans every year!

Outside the hospitals, the death toll from the same prescription drugs is probably a lot higher, but is frequently unreported or listed simply as heart failure. The 1994 Physicians Desk Reference contains hundreds of pages of side-effects of common prescription drugs used for cardiovascular disease.

Side-effects include many kinds of cancer, heart disease, liver disease, brain damage and sudden death. Research has proven that there are many factors, which determine the change of getting heart disease or stroke. Some of the important factors we can influence by changing our diet and avoid smoking.

It’s not a disease of old age, children at the age of 15 can show symptoms of the disease. Narrowing of the arteries is the main cause of stroke This can start at an early age, without any warningsigns.This process continue and is very hard to detect till suddenly a stroke occurs. This happens quite fast in most cases and leaves hardly any time to intervene.

Prevention is the key and this has to start at a youthful age; but it has been proven that by changing one’s lifestyle, the process of narrowing of the arteries can be reversed.

There are a number of factors we have to watch for:

  • to maintain a constant body weight,
  • the use of unsaturated oil and fat
  • use of the right type of cholesterol (high density lipoproteins, HDL), that scrubs and vacuums excess cholesterol off the walls of your arteries.Heart disease risk starts at a cholesterol level of 168 mg/dl, NOT the 200 mg/dl now bandied about by the media.
  • moderate intake of alcohol, sugar and sugar containing drinks.
  • avoid smoking
  • eat a healthy diet, plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, according to the guidelines of the department of health.
  • exercise daily for at least 30 minutes.

Our daily diet has to consist of sufficient carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals to keep us healthy and fit.

The following average quantities are a good daily measure for an adult, who doesn’t need to perform heavy labour:

1/2 liter fat reduced milk, one decent serving of vegetables, some potatoes,two to three fruits,1 or 2 slices of cheese, +/- 100 gr. meat, +/- 150 gr. fish, 250 – 300 gr. beans, +/- 50 gr. diet margarine,

4 – 6 slices of whole meal bread, 2 eggs/ week.

Don’t be afraid of cholesterol, it belongs to your body,like arms and legs. The body makes the necessary amount of cholesterol, which circulate in the blood through your body.

If a big amount of cholesterol in the food enters our body, the amount of cholesterol in our blood rises and atherosclerosis can develop.

Cholesterol rich foods are: egg york, liver, brains, kidneys and milt and roe from fish. If you don’t eat more than once in a fortnight liver, kidney and occasionally prawns, milt and roe, you don’t have to be afraid of cholesterol. Plenty of exercise has a favourable influence on the cholesterol content of the blood. Walk or cycle daily to work or when going shopping.

May the frequent use of this information contribute to the actual fight against heart disease and stroke. But let us not lose sight of the fact that nutrition is only one of the factors and that smoking, high blood pressure and lack of exercise are also important.

I have been involved in nutrition and weight management for over 6 years and I like to share my knowledge with anyone who could benefit from it, I also like to help people solve their problems.

Categories: health