Heart Surgery Frequently Asked Questions

How long does heart surgery generally take?

Depending on the operation, the average heart surgery takes three to four hours in the operating room. Your loved ones should know that in order to give you the best care possible, your doctors and nurses will need at least one hour before your surgery and at least one hour after surgery to make you comfortable and settled into your room. Your loved ones will be permitted to visit you roughly six hours from the time you are taken to the pre-operative area.

Where do I stay while recovering from heart surgery ?

Most patients who are recovering from heart surgery initially do so in the intensive care unit (ICU), however, some people also stay in the cardiac intensive care unit (CICU). When surgery is complete and your loved ones have spoken with the surgeon, they will be told in which ICU you are recovering.

Generally, how long will I be in the ICU?

Since everyone recovers at a different rate, there is no set time limit for ICU stays. Many of our patients are able to leave the ICU in 18 to 24 hours. Leaving the ICU depends completely on you and your health status.

How long will the breathing tube be used?

The breathing tube can be taken out as soon as you are able to meet requirements for breathing on your own and all your other vital signs are stable.

How long to heart surgery patients stay in the hospital?

The length of stay varies, but generally four to six days is average.

Can I use stairs when I go home?

Yes, but usually only two to three times daily. You will probably be tired and weak during the first few weeks after surgery. However, we recommend that you walk at home three to four times a day for about five minutes at a time. Then, increase activity according to the written instructions provided at discharge.

When can I drive a car?

Usually after your first visit with your surgeon you can begin driving again. This is typically three weeks after surgery.

Are there restrictions to lifting weights after heart surgery?

After surgery, you will not be able to lift anything over five pounds for two months. This will give your breast bone (sternum) time to heal.

Will I have a problem with depression after heart surgery?

It is common to experience depression after heart surgery. Heart surgery is considered major surgery and with any major surgery patients usually have limitations. During the period of limitations, you may be listless and uninterested in doing much until you start feeling better.