Valued Contributor
Posts: 745
Registered: ‎12-14-2018

Re: managing open heart surgery

First of all @beth58 please know we will be holding you close in our prayers and good thoughts for you and your husband.

Second; healthcare and it’s providers continue to make great advancements and I believe are our most important industry. 

I hope y’all are secure in your choices for who and where you’ll be receiving care. You should have received a plethora of paperwork which will include a complete outline of what to expect (and when) guidelines of  policies/procedures, inpatient and after care, contacts,  logs to keep (and do keep them they are important).

Read and study all of this. If you need a nurse or special equipment they will tell you. 

Good luck to you both !

Respected Contributor
Posts: 4,685
Registered: ‎12-24-2010

Re: managing open heart surgery

My only experience - my husband had  a different medical situation - a home visiting nurse twice a week after released from hospital as well as a male in-training nurse.  Female nurse took b/p and general review and reported back to doctor - male took husband in bathroom for bath/shaving.  Check with your doctor for information regarding services in your area.  They usually have a network for home health care.

In case you wonder - Medicare paid for all of it - never got a bill.

Regular Contributor
Posts: 157
Registered: ‎05-09-2010

Re: managing open heart surgery

Hoping all goes well for your husband's surgery. We have not experienced that yet, but I a brother-in-law who under went surgery twice and is fine.  I think if it were me and my husband I would check on a rehab facility.  Again, the social worker will be very helpful.  Will keep both of you in my prayers.

Trusted Contributor
Posts: 1,525
Registered: ‎03-17-2010

Re: managing open heart surgery

@beth58 All very good questions and normal concerns.  You should direct these questions and any others to your cardiologist, they deal with these situations every day, it's their job. .

Your husband will be fine.  I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how much healthier and energetic he is once his heart is repaired and he is back to 'normal". As far as time frame, everyone is different, most patients feel better almost instantly. 


Please dont feel bad about asking for help from others.  One of my neighbors had surgery and needed help and didn't want to "bother" anybody.  I wish she would have.  I would have been more than happy to give her a hand.  


Wishing you the very best.  I hope all goes well and goes quickly so you can get back to normal -


Super Contributor
Posts: 403
Registered: ‎08-07-2015

Re: managing open heart surgery

@beth58  My dad had a four heart surgeries and an aortic repair. I spoke with his cardiologist and social worker each time and they helped me set up what he needed. He did very  well at home with outpatient rehab (in patient for his aortic one, was a longer healing time ) and visiting nurse to check in.  He wasn't in pain, more like discomfort at times but nothing that wasn't  manageable, don't worry. My dad did get a little depressed a week after and thankfully we were aware that could happen. He had to be gently assured rehab/moving was ok for him.  I always remember what his cardiothoracic surgeon told me--go in with the most positive spirit you can and that greatly helps the healing process. We did that best we could and he did amazingly well. 


Basically echoing what everyone has said.... I'm sure all will be fine. Sending you healing thoughts and here if you need to talk more...



Respected Contributor
Posts: 2,672
Registered: ‎03-16-2010

Re: managing open heart surgery

Hi @beth58!  It is normal to be apprehensive at this point & it is good that you are asking questions and trying to prepare.


I will try to answer questions best I can from a nursing perspective.  First thing I will tell you is be prepared for the first time you see your husband after surgery to have all kinds of tubes and equipment.  Don't be alarmed by all of the "stuff".  This is perfectly normal and doesn't mean that anything has gone wrong.  As with any surgery, the surgeon will talk with you after surgery and tell you how the surgery went.  The hospital may also have a program to educate patients and families before surgery.  Some hospitals do and some don't.


As he progresses, those tubes and equipment will be removed.  The goal is to get him up quickly.  In most cases when there is no complication to prevent it, they try to get the patient up in a recliner even in open heart recovery.  


Here is a website that has quite a bit of good information: 


We don't know your husband's health and physical history (nor do we need to) so it is difficult to give specific information.  But generally, unless there is a specific medical condition or complication, patients go straight home from the hospital.  


Since you have so many levels in the house & depending on how many steps there are inbetween levels, that might present some difficulty.  Make sure the discharge planner at the hospital is aware of this information.


I will say that traditional Medicare will not cover in home nursing or physical therapy unless there is a specific medical need that meets strict protocols.  Traditional Medicare also requies the patient to be classified as "homebound" before Medicare will pay for home health services after surgery.  Some Medicare replacement plans will provide limited visits if necessary post open heart surgery,  But again, there must be a specific need other than just routine recovery from open heart surgery.  So if you have questions regarding that, talk to them while your husband is in the hospital.


You might be thinking of how you can arrange your home so that your husband can get around to the bathroom, watch TV, sleep, etc., without having to walk too many steps at a time.  You might also want to think outside the box a little for his first few days home.  For example, if you have a recliner in a room that also has a bathroom on the same level, he may be more comfortable sleeping in the recliner at first.  But don't forget, the goal is to move, walk, and get some exercise as tolerated during the day.  


As long as he is in relatively good health and there are no complications, you should not have to hire a nurse or have a hospital bed.  


Many cardiac surgeons or primary care providers refer to cardiac rehab after a specific amount of time.  I think some people get cardiac rehab and a traditional rehab program in a long term care facility confused at times.  So just in case, know that cardiac rehab programs are done in free standing offices and the patient goes to and from the cardiac rehab site.  That means someone needs to drive him to and from for the first couple of weeks of rehab.  Many times patients are cleared to drive before they finish the rehab program and drive themself to and from toward the end of the program.  Cardiac rehab is not done in a long term care facility where patients stay 24 hours/day.  Cardiac rehab is a highly skilled area where they have specially trained nurses and monitors that oversee the exercise of that particular patient.  


Your husband will have pain, but the surgeon will prescribe pain meds.  He should take them as directed and not be afraid to take them.  Again, the goal is to get people up and moving so pain management is essential.  Too many complications occur from people not getting up and moving around after surgery.  So if someone is in enough pain that it prevents them from wanting to get up and walk a little.....that is a problem.  

Here is another link about cardiac rehab that might be helpful: 


Although I know it is a little overwhelming, just know that the majority of patients do absolutely fine and are getting around very well within a couple of weeks of their surgery.  


Best wishes to both you and your husband. Heart








* Freedom has a taste the protected will never know *
Valued Contributor
Posts: 787
Registered: ‎03-13-2010

Re: managing open heart surgery

Prayers for your husband!


My mom had quadruple by pass when she was 80 years old.  Sounds scary and I remember that night when she was back in her room, my sister, dad and I were waiting for her.  She looked awful - sorry to be so honest, but it did scare me.


The next afternoon she was yelling at dad that he brought the wrong color lipstick!  That's how quickly she improved.  And mom was not the healthiest person to begin with.  She had the option to go to rehab, no, she wanted to come home.  So someone would come over and check on her.  I remember she had a heart shaped pillow that she was suppose to hold to her chest when she coughed.


That was 17 years ago and I'm sure the procedure(s) continue to improve.  I remember my aunt having open heart surgery back in 1973.  We literally were all called to the hospital to say "good bye" the night before in case she did not make it.  Thank goodness those days are long gone.


You mentioned that you do not have family close by.  Please be sure to put it out there to docs/hospital staff.  You should not be doing this alone.  

Trusted Contributor
Posts: 1,342
Registered: ‎03-19-2016

Re: managing open heart surgery

@beth58   My husband passed away almost 16 years ago from cancer. 
  He had multiple bipasses at Walter Reed and I stayed nearby. I was amazed one day when I went in and the nurse had him walking up the stairs! 
   They gave him a pillow to hug and it helped him when coughing right after surgery.
   The house is one floor. He wouldn't tell me if he was in pain, LOL! He sat in his recliner mostly but had no trouble with stairs. 
    He did fine at home even walked a lot, but got an infection in his leg. So, watch infections in the leg and chest. I used Aloe from a plant and it helped. 
    He seemed really grumpy and I've heard that from others. But if you can put up with each other you will be fine. I had no help and that was about 25  years ago.
   I think things are much improved now and you should have no problems. 

Honored Contributor
Posts: 9,255
Registered: ‎09-01-2010

Re: managing open heart surgery

@beth58 ,

My advice is don’t do anything until instructed to do so.  


A good friend had open heart surgery nearly 10 years ago when he was 74.   He came home from the hospital weak, but still quite capable of doing for himself.   My coworker stayed with him the first week, then she returned to work.   I am not aware of him needing any specific equipment, and his wife did not change any dressing.   He slept in a recliner for several weeks.  


My friend rebuilt his strength by walking thru his house multiple times a day.   He was not to go up and down stairs, no stretching, nor lift anything heavier than his shoes.   


Being an active man, he was quite bored at home, but was diligent with the OT and PT exercises.   His surgery was in February, so he was stuck inside for several weeks, and admitted he was becoming a bit depressed by the time the weather improved enough that he could walk outside to get the paper and the mail.   He is doing fine, and has never had any further problems.


Best wishes to your husband with his surgery and recovery.   Prayers of strength for you and all who love him!



Respected Contributor
Posts: 4,930
Registered: ‎03-09-2010

Re: managing open heart surgery

Prayers for your husband and a smooth easy recovery.