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Home > Health & Fitness > Healthwise > Heart Valve Surgery: Recovery
Recovery after valve surgery may take a long time. During
this time, your activities will be limited, you will experience physical and
emotional changes, and you may have problems (such as chest pain or trouble
sleeping). You will also need medicines, good nutrition, and exercise.
After you return home from the hospital,
you will spend weeks to months recovering from your surgery. Full recovery time
varies for each person and is influenced by your age and overall
physical condition. It also depends on your motivation to work with the
While you are recovering, you will have to limit many of
your normal activities. Most people take a few weeks off from work. But this will depend on your physical condition and the type of work you
do. Talk to your doctor to find out when it is safe for you to return to work.
You may be advised not to drive for a few weeks. Your
body needs time to regain its normal coordination and agility and to allow your
incision to heal.
To ensure proper healing, do not apply direct pressure to your surgical wound. For at least 6 weeks, avoid lifting anything that would make you strain. This may include a child, heavy grocery bags and milk containers, a heavy briefcase or backpack, or cat litter or dog food bags.
Recovery can be intensely painful and difficult at times, from both the operation and medicines you are given. You may have some
discomfort such as pain, swelling, or fatigue.
If you have symptoms of depression, talk to your doctor. Treating depression can help you stay healthy. Some people experience depression as a natural result of
recovery from invasive surgery, which is a traumatic and weakening physical
experience. Other people become depressed because they may feel isolated or
inactive during recovery.
Although it may be hard, remember
that these sensations and feelings are all normal reactions and are part of
your physical and emotional healing process. They should disappear over time.
If any of them concern you or especially cause you discomfort, discuss them
with your doctor.
Some physical symptoms
may indicate complications such as an infection. The table below lists symptoms
to be aware of and what they may mean. Call your doctor immediately if you
have any of these symptoms.
A fever, especially during the first few days after you return home
Excessive draining, redness, or swelling of the incision
Sudden weight gain in the first
Swelling in ankles and hands
Even though you have been
discharged from the hospital, you still need to visit your doctor regularly for
follow-up visits. He or she will watch your condition, discuss any
limitations on activities or diet, and prescribe medicines. Be sure you let
your doctor know about any other medicines (such as nonprescription
painkillers) that you take, as these medicines may interact with the ones
your doctor has already prescribed.
The following are some
things your doctor may discuss with you.
Current as of:
March 12, 2014
Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology & John A. McPherson, MD, FACC, FSCAI - Cardiology
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
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