Stop any activity immediately if you feel short of breath, notice irregular heart beats,
feel faint or dizzy, or you have chest pain. Rest until the symptoms subside. If they do not subside
within 20 minutes, notify your doctor.
You can take showers after your pacing wires and staples are out. Avoid soaking in
baths until your incisions are healed. Avoid extremely hot water.
Wear comforatble, loose fitting clothes that do not put undue pressure on your
You need a balance of rest and exercise for your recovery. Plan to rest between activities
and to take short naps as necessary. Resting also includes sitting quietly for 20-30 minutes.
Rest 30 minutes after meals before exercising.
This is one of the best forms of exercise because it increases circulation throughout
the body and to the heart muscle. It is important to increase your activity gradually. Walk at your
own pace. Stop and rest if you get tired. Each person progresses at a different rate after heart
surgery. Physical therapists will provide you with an individual plan for exercise before your
discharge. It is important to pace your activities throughout the day. Do not try to do too many
things at one time. In poor weather lower than 40 degrees or above 80 degrees, you can walk in
indoor shopping malls. In cold weather, wear a scarf or mask around your mouth and nose.
Unless your doctor tells you differently, you can climb stairs. Take them at a slow
pace. Stop and rest if you tire. When using the handrail, do not pull yourself up with your
arms. Use your legs.
You can resume sexual relations when you feel comfortable. For many people this is
about 2 to 4 weeks after discharge, unless instructed differently by your doctor. Please ask your
nurse for more detailed information, if needed.
You can ride as a passenger in a car at any time. Avoid driving, outdoor bicycling, or
motorcycle riding for 6 weeks after surgery. This time period is recommended to allow your
breastbone (sternum) to heal. Also your movements might be limited and slow before the 6 weeks
are up. When traveling, be sure to get out of the car every 2 hours and walk around for a
You should not put too much strain on your sternum while it is healing. Avoid lifting,
pushing, or pulling anything heavier than 10 pounds for 6 weeks after surgery. This includes carrying
children, groceries, suitcases, mowing the grass, vacuuming, and moving furniture. Don't hold your
breath during any activity, especially when lifting anything or when using the rest room.
Check with your surgeon before returning to work, but most patients will begin to feel
like returning to light work 6 to 12 weeks after surgery.
When To Resume Usual Activities:
After 6 Weeks
After 3 Months
- Setting the table
- Wash dishes
- Folding clothes
|Continue activities of weeks 1 - 6 (but you may be able to tolerate more).
||Continue activities of weeks 1 to 3 months (but you may be able to tolerate more)
- Potting plants
- Trimming flowers
|Return to work part-time (If your job does not require lifting, and returning is approved
by your surgeon).
Small mechanical jobs
Attend sports events
- Mowing lawn
- Raking leaves
|Passenger in car
Business or recreational travel
Light aerobics (no weights)
Walking dog on leash
Driving a car or small truck
*Keep in mind that all of these activities need to be in the 10 pound weight limit or less
until 6 weeks after surgery.
**Visitors: Limit your visitors for the first couple of weeks. If you get tired, excuse
yourself and lie down. Your visitors will understand.
- Stop any exercise if you experience hortness of breath, dizziness, leg cramping,
unusual fatigue, and/or chest pain (angina). Notify your doctor if these symptoms persist.
- If your post-exercise pulse rate is more than 30 beats faster than your resting pulse rate,
or if your rate of perceived exertion is over 13, you have exercised too hard. In order to correct these
conditions you will need to modify your next exercise session.
Monitoring your pulse rate helps you to keep your activities within a safe heart rate range.
To take your pulse, place your index and middle fingers on the lower part of your thumb, then slide
your fingers down to your wrist. If you do not feel the pulse, try moving your fingers over a little
but in the same area. Once you can feel the pulse, count it for 15 seconds and multiply by 4. This
will tell you how many times your heart is beating in one minute. Your doctor of their nurse can help
you to find your pulse in your wrist if you have difficulty.
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