The Benefits of Recovering at Home After Heart Surgery

Recovering at home after heart surgery is easier with these tips.

Each and every day, thousands of heart surgeries take place throughout the U.S. From open heart surgery to valve repair, there are a variety of procedures available to help people preserve an engaged lifestyle in spite of a cardiac event. 

And even though there might be some hesitation in leaving the observant eyes of the hospital staff members after heart surgery, returning to the comfort of home can bring peace of mind. Recuperating in your own bed, getting more restful, uninterrupted sleep, relaxing in your favorite chair, enjoying home cooked food, and having the opportunity for fresh air are just several of the benefits of recovering at home.

Along with the detailed directions your doctor will provide before release, these heart surgery recovery guidelines can help: 

Incision Care

  • Keep the incision clean and dry.
  • The incision can be delicately washed (don’t rub) with soap. Do not use creams or lotions on incisions until after they are healed.

Relieving Pain

  • A prescription for a pain medication will be provided before discharge from the hospital.
  • Itching, tightness and/or numbness around the incision are normal after surgery.

Sleep and Diet

  • The doctor will instruct if a special diet should be followed. A regular appetite should return within a few weeks. 
  • It’s common to have difficulty sleeping for some time after surgery. Normal sleep patterns typically return within a few months. 


  • Three times each day, raise feet up higher than heart level when resting. (An important note: recliners do not effectively elevate feet.)
  • Do not cross legs when lying in bed or sitting. This places pressure on the veins under the knees and slows blood flow.


  • Don’t lift objects greater than 20 pounds.
  • Walk every day. The health care provider or cardiac rehabilitation specialist will give instructions for walking upon returning home. 

Mental Functioning and Heart Surgery

  • The entire body, including the brain, was greatly stressed during surgery. With time, in most cases, normal cognitive functioning returns.
  • Avoid situations, people, or subjects of conversation that create tension or invoke anger. The heart has to work harder when emotions are unsettled and uncomfortable.

When to Call the Physician

  • A temperature higher than 101 degrees F on more than one occasion, or chills that last for 24 hours.
  • Excessive swelling, redness, oozing or tenderness at the incision sites.
  • Increased exhaustion or shortness of breath.
  • Abnormal pain or other symptoms that are not relieved by medications.
  • If the sternum feels as though it moves, or it pops or cracks with movement. 

Harmony Home Health & Hospice, one of the leading Utah home health companies, offers a broad range of home care services to help seniors recover from heart surgery. Our skilled nurses, therapists, and home health aides are available as much or as little as needed to help with a smooth recovery process, where it’s most comfortable – at home. Our extensively trained care team provides senior care in Ogden, UT and the neighboring areas to help your loved one adhere to post-op instructions. Contact us today at 1-877-I-NEED-CARE and learn more about our top-rated home health care services.