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Heart Failure Preparation & Management

Daignosing Heart Failure Building a Team Optimal Medicine Therapy Minimally Invasive Surgery Invasive Surgery Recovery
Diagnosing A Heart Condition Building A Team Optimal Medicine Therapy Minimally Invasive Surgery Invasive Surgery Recovery


Whether you undergo minimally invasive or invasive surgery, you will have a recovery period. With minimally invasive procedures your hospital stay may be as short as 3 to 5 days. Obviously, with invasive surgeries such as Aortic Surgery, the DOR procedure, a Heart transplant, ICD, or Stent placement, your stay will be longer to insure a good recovery.
The amount of recovery time after a successful surgery (minimal or invasive) can be anywhere from 2 to 8 weeks. That is the time you will spend recovering at home. A lot of recovery depends on you and the precautions you take before and after the surgery.

As crazy as it might seem, approach your recovery as if you have been on a vacation. You want to return home with no hassles or worries. Nothing is worse than coming home to face a lot of extra work. You do not want to lie in bed and think about the things that you should be getting done. These are simple steps that you can take prior to surgery to help insure a speedy recovery:


  • Clean

  • Arrange

  • Rearrange

  • Energize

  • Stimulate


  • Have all household chores completed before surgery. Have everything clean and dusted. You do not want to do any heavy lifting during your recovery. Remove any obstructions. Have everything in place so that you don’t have to do anything strenuous once you get home.

  • Clean out your refrigerator and cabinets. Get rid of anything that you are not supposed to eat or drink.

  • Prepare your bedroom by changing your sheets. Finish all laundry.

  • Prepare your bathroom. Make it easy to get in and out of the tub by placing something to grab onto in case you slip. Hand bars can be purchased at any home improvement store, and are installed easily. Place no-slip decals on the bottom of the tub. If you are going to bathe yourself, put all necessary items like soap, shampoo, and razors within easy reach.


  • Plan your diet. Prior to returning home, make sure that you have everything you will need at least for the first four or five days. You will be prescribed a specific diet, so make sure that you have the food and beverages that are necessary. Have someone buy last minute perishables for you before you get home.

  • Make a list of all your medications including the time(s) of day that you have been prescribed to take them. Make a chart if that is easier for you. Keep it posted on the refrigerator or on your bedside table so that you will not forget.

  • Discuss all medications with your physician. Make sure to let them know of any medications that you are taking prior to surgery. Your physician will decide what medications you can take at the same time.

  • If you own pets, make sure that they can be provided for, especially those first few days. If you have a dog, you will probably not be able to walk it, so make arrangements. As much as you love your pets, and they love you, now is not a good time for them to drive you crazy.

  • Arrange your lawn care in advance and ask the paper delivery person to make sure that the paper lands directly in front of your door.

  • If you belong to a church, let your friends in the church know what is going on. Most churches will come to the aide of their members during a time like this. But let them know if they are going to bring you anything thing to eat, as thoughtful people often do, that it is heart healthy. You do have a diet to maintain.

  • Make sure your bills are paid and up-to-date if possible. You do not want to be bothered with tedious, stressful last-minute activity.

  • If your company does not offer direct deposit, make arrangements for someone to deposit your checks for you. The process is simple and can be done very easily by someone you trust.

  • Give your family and friends convenient times for you to see visitors. People who are being thoughtful sometimes forget that you might not feel like entertaining.

  • Plan your doctor visits in advance. You will know the dates of your first checkup when you are discharged from the hospital. Plan ahead and make arrangements to be there. Make sure you have reliable transportation. Do not drive if it is not advised. Once again, let your family and friends come to your aide.


  • Be sure to remove any obstructions from areas where you might be walking.

  • Make sure that you have access to a telephone. Place one in your bedroom. If you have a cell phone keep it close to you.

  • If you watch TV, move one into your bedroom in a place that will be easy for you to see. Don’t forget the DVD player. Now is a great time to catch up on movies you have wanted to watch. If you prefer music have a radio with a remote control placed in your bedroom. You want to alleviate any stir craziness.

  • Get together some magazines, puzzle books, or novels. Place them close to your bed.


  • If you are allowed to exercise, make sure that you have what you need to do so. Move as much as you can. You want to keep your blood flowing and your heart pumping. If you are unable to stand up, move around in the bed. Move your arms and legs; wiggle your fingers and toes. Gently massage your arms and legs. Bend your knees. Try to make these actions once every couple of hours.

  • Don’t wait until the last minute. That is when things generally get hectic. Let your family and friends visit and don’t be afraid to ask them to do things for you. If you know that you are going to need something, like a refill on meds, make sure that the prescriptions are filled before you run out of your current medications.

  • Have someone take you outside if you are capable and the weather permits. Take a short walk, which may only mean to the other room and back, but it is a start. Don’t push yourself. You are not expected to do jumping jacks, but movement is good for your circulation.

  • Go into another room and sit for awhile. A change of scenery is good.

  • Keep the air conditioner or heater regulated. You may be alone at times, and not able to jump out of bed to adjust the thermostat. Keep a fan handy, so that if you get too warm it will give you some relief and it will keep the air in your room circulating. If you are fortunate enough to have nice weather, open your windows. Fresh air will do wonders for the mind and body.

  • Keep your grooming tools close at hand, in case you have pop-in visitors. The better you look, the better you will feel.


  • Think about the future. Plan your first outing and think about your next vacation. Give yourself something to look forward to. Make lists of things you would like to accomplish.

  • Get out of the house once it is advised for you to do so. But start slow. You do not want to do everything in one outing.

  • If you are a shopper, do not go shopping on the weekends as that is when the malls and superstores are the busiest. You probably don’t want to deal with heavy traffic, a lot of commotion, or waiting in line. Mondays are a great day to do these things while most everyone is at work. Take advantage of the quiet time, and get some things done. Don’t overdo it. If you get tired, find a place to sit down. Relax and enjoy.

  • Go out to eat, but remember your diet. Go in the afternoon when restaurants are the least busy. Relax and people watch-it’s fun!

  • Start your exercise regime when your health care team thinks that you are capable.

  • If you are used to a healthy sex life, be sure to check with your physician to make sure that you are ready.

  • Your cardiac team will give you explicit instructions about working. Do not return before it is advised. It will be there when you get back.

First and foremost, follow your surgical team’s instructions and recommendations to a tee. Your team of health care professionals has more experience with this than you do-listen to them. Secondly, enlist the help of friends and family; now is a good time to call in any favors. The rest is up to you.

The easier you make it for yourself the easier your recovery will go. Taking some of these simple steps and precautions in advance will make you feel a lot better about recovery.
If at anytime during your recovery you have any abnormal pains or symptoms contact your physician immediately. Make sure that you can get to a hospital if the occasion arises. While recovery may be frustrating at times, with proper care, you may resume a healthy lifestyle.

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. The Heart Failure Center does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The contents of The Heart Failure Center Site ("Content") are for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or any symptoms you may have. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.

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