Heart Surgery Frequently Asked Questions

What can one expect the day of surgery?

Depending on the operation, the average heart surgery takes three to four hours in the operating room. Your loved ones should know that 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 one-hour post-surgery in the surgical intensive care unit.

Most patients who are recovering from heart surgery initially do so in the surgical intensive care unit (SICU). When surgery is complete and your loved ones have spoken with the surgeon, they will be told in which SICU you are recovering.

Since everyone recovers at a different rate, there is no set time limit for SICU stays. Many of our patients are able to leave the SICU in 24 to 48 hours to be transferred to a step-down unit. Your length of stay there depends completely on you and your health status.

How long do heart surgery patients stay in the hospital?

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

When can I drive a car?

Usually after your first visit with your surgeon you can begin driving again.

Are there restrictions to lifting weights after heart surgery?

After surgery, you will not be able to lift anything over five pounds until cleared by your physician. 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 any major surgery including heart surgery. It is important to take care of your mental and emotional health. Seek professional help with a therapist and remember asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. There is no shame in having mental and emotional struggles. It’s totally normal and even expected after a heart attack or heart surgery.

Minimally Invasive Heart Valve Surgery

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