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Home » For Patients » FAQs » Preparing for Heart Surgery

How do I prepare for heart surgery?

The length of your stay in the hospital can vary according tthe type of surgery you are having.

  • For CABG surgery – expect to be in the hospital for 5-7 days
  • For Valvular surgery – 7-10 days
  • Repeat of CABG surgery – 7-10 days

Please notify your family of your expected length of stay and make the arrangements for someone to pick you up from the hospital at the time of discharge. It is recommended that you nominate one member of your family liaise with the ward staff about your progress. This person should ideally be the next of kin.

Bring only bare essentials with you the hospital since ACI cannot accept liability for the loss of any items not handed over for safekeeping. Please bear in mind that storage space on the wards is limited. Please bring the following items with you:

  • Night wear (x3)
  • Dressing gown
  • Slippers
  • Lightweight day clothing
  • Toiletries
  • Soap (preferably liquid)
  • New towels and washcloths
  • Books/magazines
  • Current medication
  • Ladies: a properly fitting, supportive bra (preferably one with a front fastener)
  • Men: short, open-front pyjamas
  • Loose change

Please don’t bring these items:

  • Bank Cards/ Cheque Books
  • Jewellery
  • Portable TV’s/Radios
  • Mobile Telephones

What should I expect before heart surgery?

You will be required to attend a pre-admission clinic the week before your surgery. Once you have attended this clinic, usually you will not require any further tests. If you did not attend the clinic, you may need to have the following tests done:

  • Chest X-ray
  • ECG
  • Blood Tests

Before the procedure:

  • You will be asked to check-in to the hospital at 4pm on the day before the surgery. You will be visited by a group of doctors who will inform you of the time for your procedure the following day. (Operating times are usually around 7am or between 12 noon and 1pm.)
  • You can eat and drink as normal on the day of the operation. The nurses on ward will inform you when you have to stop consuming.
  • Body hair (especially on the chest and legs) will be removed; this will be followed by a shower. N.B. Please do not attempt to shave yourself before the surgery. Leave this to the professionals.
  • Medication will be given to you to help you relax.
  • Two drips will be inserted into your arm. One is used to administer the general anaesthetic and the second is inserted into an artery to continuously monitor your blood pressure level.
  • An ECG monitor will be attached and oxygen will be administered through a face mask before the anaesthetic is given.
  • A ventilator will be attached to control your breathing once you are deeply asleep.
  • Other tubes will be inserted to allow the doctor to administer several drugs simultaneously during the operation.
    • Urinary catheter
    • Drip in the neck

What should I expect after heart surgery?

After the procedure:

  • You will re required to stay in the hospital for 5-7 days.
  • You will be taken to the Coronary Care Unit (CCU) where your vitals will be closely monitored.
  • You will still be connected to an array of unfamiliar equipment (drips, tubes and drains). This is normal and allows the nurses to take better care of you.
  • If you experience any pain you should inform the nurses so they can ensure the right medication is administered to keep you as pain-free as possible.
  • You will be required to perform breathing exercises to help prevent chest infections. This is an important part of your recovery.
  • Physiotherapists and nurses will work with you to get you out of bed and mobilise as quickly as possible.
  • Once you are well enough you will be transferred from the CCU to the Cardiothoracic Surgical Ward.
  • You will gradually start walking around the ward aided by your physiotherapist. Early mobilisation is important in preventing post-operative complications such as chest infections and blood clots in the legs.
  • Support stockings will be worn to aid circulation in your legs and to minimise swelling.
  • Initially, you will find that you are very tired and sleeping a lot.
  • Your appetite may be poor so small amounts of food should be eaten often.
  • Once the doctors are satisfied with your recovery pattern, you will be notified 24 hours before discharge. The final decision on discharge is based on the results of an ECG and blood tests. Discharge time can be between 3-6 pm. Before discharge you must be able to do the following:
    • Walk around the ward with minimal or no assistance.
    • Wash and dress yourself with minimal assistance.
    • Safely undertake 2 flights of stairs.
  • Any questions you may have about your discharge can be discussed with the Discharge Coordinator. Also, feel free to discuss any concerns you may have with the nurses on the ward.

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