Tips for Heart and Bypass Surgery Recovery at Home

Bypass Surgery Recovery
Many home care services are available to enable patients to recover from surgery in the comfort of home.

Each and every day, thousands of heart surgeries take place across the United States. From valve repair to open heart surgery, there are a number of procedures available to help people maintain a healthy lifestyle despite a cardiac event.

And although there may be some trepidation when leaving the watchful eyes of the hospital personnel after heart surgery, returning to the comfort of home can bring peace of mind. Recuperating in your own bed, obtaining more restful, uninterrupted sleep, relaxing in your favorite chair, eating home cooked food, and having the opportunity for fresh air are just several of the benefits of recovering at home.

Along with the comprehensive instructions the doctor will provide before discharge, the following heart and bypass surgery recovery tips can help:

Incision Care

  • Keep the incision dry and clean.
  • The incision can be carefully washed (don’t rub) with soap. Avoid using creams or lotions on incisions until after they have healed.

Easing Pain

  • A prescription for pain medication will be given before discharge from the hospital.
  • Itchiness, tightness and/or numbness around the incision are common after surgery.

Diet and Sleep

  • The doctor will instruct if a specialized diet is required.
  • A regular appetite is likely to return within a few weeks.
  • It’s not uncommon to experience difficulty sleeping for some time following surgery. Normal sleep patterns typically return within a few months.


  • Three times per day, raise feet up higher than heart level when resting. (One note: recliners do not adequately elevate feet.)
  • Avoid crossing your legs when lying in bed or sitting. Doing so places pressure on the veins under the knees and slows blood flow.


  • Avoid lifting objects greater than 20 pounds.
  • Walk every day. The doctor or cardiac rehabilitation specialist will provide guidelines for walking upon returning home.

Mental Functioning and Heart Surgery

  • The entire body, including the brain, was significantly stressed during surgery. With time, in the majority of cases, normal cognitive functioning will return.
  • Avoid situations, people, or subjects of conversation that generate tension or invoke anger. The heart has to work harder when emotions are unsettled and irritating.

When to Call the Doctor

  • A temperature higher than 101 degrees F on more than one occasion, or chills for 24 hours.
  • Excessive redness, swelling, oozing or tenderness at the incision sites.
  • Increased tiredness or shortness of breath.
  • Unusual pain or other symptoms that are not relieved by medications.
  • If the sternum feels like it moves, or it cracks or pops with movement.

Dakota Home Care offers a broad range of senior home care services to help older adults manage bypass surgery recovery at home — from providing reminders to take medications and support with bathing, to preparing nutritious meals and encouraging daily activity to improve strength and stamina, and much more. Our extensively-trained care team provides elder care in Fargo, ND, as well as Mandan and Bismarck, to help patients adhere to post-op directions while recovering in the comfort of home. Call us today at (877) 691-0015 and learn more about our top-rated home care services and schedule a free in-home consultation. See our full service area.

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