Santa Rosa Transitional Care After Heart Surgery: The 3 Top Care Concerns
After recovering from heart surgery, an intricate web of transitional care needs develops, from nutritional changes to incision care, pain management, swelling minimization, and more. The last thing an older adult wants after returning home from such a traumatic event is to face the need for rehospitalization.
Hired Hands Homecare, the top-rated home care company Santa Rosa, CA families trust, wants to help make sure your senior loved one recovers completely and as quickly as possible from heart surgery, and shares the following guidelines for effective transitional care:
Caring for the Incision
Instructions on how to care for the incision will be provided prior to being discharged from the hospital. Issues to be aware of include:
- Always keep the incision clean and dry.
- The incision can be gently washed (don’t rub) with soap. Do not use creams or lotions on incisions until healing is complete.
- Occasionally a swelling or lump appears at the top of the chest incision, and can take several months to go away completely.
- If the incision is healing and dry, quick showers (no longer than 10 minutes) are normally permitted. If there are sutures in the chest, stand with back to the shower spray.
- If showers are not available, quick baths (limited to 10 minutes) may be taken.
- Avoid extreme hot or cold water temperatures, as they can cause faintness.
Initially, there may be some muscle or incision uncomfortableness in the chest area during physical activity, but there should not be pain in the chest comparable to the pain prior to surgery.
- A prescription for a pain medication will be given before leaving the hospital.
- Itching, tightness and/or numbness along the incision are typical after surgery.
- If the surgery was bypass surgery, and if vein grafts from the legs were used, there may be more pain in the legs than surrounding the chest incision.
- Walking, daily activities, and time will help to reduce leg discomfort and stiffness.
It is possible to go back home with some degree of swelling in the legs and feet, specifically if vein grafts were taken from the legs. If swelling is observed:
- Lift feet up higher than heart level when resting. Attempt to do this three times a day for one hour to alleviate swelling. (Note: recliners do not adequately elevate feet.)
- Walk daily even if legs are swollen.
- Hospital support hose may be advised.
- Do not cross legs while lying in bed or sitting. This places pressure on the veins under the knees and slows down blood flow.
The recovery and transitional care time period can be a daunting time and you may be tempted to call the doctor over each and every discomfort or symptom. If you encounter any of the following symptoms however, contact your doctor immediately:
- Temperature higher than 101 degrees F on more than one occasion or chills for 24 hours.
- Significant oozing, redness, swelling or tenderness at the incision sites.
- Increased exhaustion or shortness of breath.
- Abnormal pain or other symptoms not alleviated by medications.
- If the sternum feels like it moves, or it pops or cracks with movement.
The professional home care company Santa Rosa, CA families trust, Hired Hands Homecare, can help significantly in keeping your senior loved one on the road to recovery after heart surgery by providing personal care services, helping around the home and with meals to allow him or her to rest and recuperate, running errands, picking up prescriptions, and so much more. Call us at (866) 940-4343 to let us know more about how we can help you.