Life After Heart Valve Surgery

You don't recover from heart surgery overnight, but with time you will feel better. Checkups and monitoring will be part of your recovery. You may also decide to make other lifestyle changes to improve your overall health.

After Surgery

When the surgery to repair or replace your heart valve has been completed, your heart will be beating on its own and all incisions will be sewn or stapled closed.

Right after your operation, you'll feel drowsy and you'll spend the next few hours in the intensive care unit (ICU), where you will be closely monitored to make sure there are no complications.

After that, you'll be moved to another room where your family and friends will be able to visit you.

Daily Living

You'll likely begin to feel better almost right away. Your condition will improve gradually, and you'll notice that each day you'll feel a little bit better. However, you'll have to make some lifestyle adjustments to get the most out of your new or repaired heart valve.

There are precautions you should take to make sure your heart valve disease does not return. Make sure to visit your doctor for follow-up care. He or she will give you instructions on how and when to take your medicine and about activities you can do and which ones to avoid.

Having a heart valve repaired may cause you to think that you need to greatly change your lifestyle. You will probably feel much better physically with continued improvement several weeks or months after your surgery. As you feel better, you may want to discuss some of this information further with your doctor.

Exercise

You and your doctor will determine which activities are safe for you and which foods and habits to avoid. Tell your doctor if you're experiencing pain or other symptoms.

Travel

After you've recovered, you should be able to enjoy travelling to many of the places you did before your surgery. Remember, however, that certain destinations may expose you to bacteria and other microbes that could be dangerous for your heart. Talk with your doctor if you're planning a trip to an exotic or tropical destination.

Dental and Medical Procedures

Tell your dentist or other doctors that care for you about your heart valve surgery. You may have to take antibiotics before getting dental work or even routine cleanings. This is because bacteria can be dislodged from your teeth and travel to your heart valve, causing an infection.

Electromagnetic Compatibility

You should consult your doctor if you have any concerns about electromagnetic devices and your heart valve.

Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.

Last updated: 27 Sep 2010

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