Coronary Artery Bypass Graft - Recovery

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What was recovery like after your coronary artery bypass graft procedure?

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How do patients recover after CABG surgery?

Sutures are removed from the chest prior to discharge and from the leg (if the saphenous vein is used) after 7 to 10 days. Even though smaller leg veins will take over the role of the saphenous vein, a certain degree of swelling (edema) in the affected ankle is common. Patients are advised to wear elastic support stockings during the day for the first four to six weeks after surgery and to keep their leg elevated when sitting. This swelling usually resolves after about six to eight weeks. Healing of the breastbone takes about six weeks and is the primary limitation in recovering from CABG surgery. Patients are advised not to lift anything more than 10 pounds or perform heavy exertion during this healing period. They are also advised not to drive for the first four weeks to avoid any injury to the chest. Patients can return to normal sexual activity as long as they minimize positions that put significant weight on the chest or upper arms. Return to work usually occurs after the six week recovery, but may be much sooner for non-strenuous employment.

Exercise stress testing is routinely done four to six weeks after CABG surgery and signals the beginning of a cardiac rehabilitation program. Rehabilitation consists of a 12 week program of gradually increasing monitored exercise lasting one hour three times a week. Patients are also counseled about the importance of lifestyle changes to lower their chance of developing further CAD. These include stopping smoking, reducing weight and dietary fat, controlling blood pressure and diabetes, and lowering blood cholesterol levels.

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Comment from: LPN., 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: July 14

In 2008 I had my first stent due to unstable angina. Three years later I had a heart attack affecting two major arteries and was stented. The following three years seemed as though I could almost mark the date of when my LAD (left anterior descending artery) was blocking again. Recently I had symptoms and thought it early as I had just had my LAD ballooned so nothing could happen that fast. Wrong! I had all my usual symptoms and a frightening added one. Driving on my way to work, my lower arm and hand became numb. I tried to shake it off without success. Then one side of my face became numb. Catheterization showed an 85 percent block after only 6 months. The other stents were good so I was told I had an unlucky LAD and would needs bypass surgery. The surgery was a harrowing experience, I think. Fortunate to have little memory of some of the worst. I returned home (a month ago). All seemed to be going well. Then I had MRSA in my incision site. Painful, scary and was on an oral equivalent of an IV medicine called Zyvox. For me the side effects were very unpleasant. The MRSA has improved. Then at age 60, vaginal bleeding (which is from the stress on one's body). Then a urinary infection and thrush. Now at week 5 those extras are either gone or healing. I cannot wait to see what it will be like full force with my heart working the best it has in 7 years. I finally start rehabilitation next week. No depression. I never thought I would live until 60.

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Comment from: bue, 35-44 Male (Patient) Published: October 27

Tubes were put in my ears to go in the oxygen chamber. I couldn't stand and the tubes were removed in 4 days. I am now having problems with ear aches. One ear is trying to close up over the ear drum. The other isn't closed up yet. I wish I had never done it, I had an open wound. Doctor said I need to do that to get it healed. I hope I get they get ok but right now I am in pain with earaches.

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