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Open Heart - Daily Activities

It is very important that you balance rest and exercise during your day-to-day activities. These guidelines will help you avoid undue stress on your incisions and allow healing to take place.

 

General Guidelines

 

Do:

  • Have a responsible adult at home with you for the first two weeks.
  • Limit activities to home and surrounding area during the first week.
  • Establish 30-60 minute rest periods once or twice a day.
  • Space your daily activities. When you get tired, stop and rest.
  • Sleep six to ten hours a night.

 

Do Not:

  • Do not do everything at one time.
  • Do not push yourself to do that last little job.
  • Do not lift objects that weigh more than ten pounds for four to six weeks.

 

Household Chores

 

Do:

  • Light household chores, for example, cooking, washing dishes or cleaning up after meals (rest 30 minutes first).
  • Go up and down stairs slowly. If you become tired, rest before continuing.

 

Do Not:

  • Do not lift, push or pull any object over ten pounds for four to six weeks.
  • Do not vacuum, sweep, rake, garden with a hoe, shovel snow or ride on a tractor.
  • Do not do prolonged activities with your arms above shoulder level, for example, washing windows, hanging clothes or working under the car. 

 

Personal Cares

 

Do:

  • Get dressed every morning. Be up and about as much as possible without getting tired.
  • Shower daily. You may take a bath after 2 weeks if you feel up to it and your incision is healed.
  • Wash your incision with soap and water only.
  • Take your temperature in the morning and late afternoon for the first one to two weeks after going home. Call your doctor if your temperature is over   102.0F orally.

 

Do Not:

  • Do not use lotion, cream or powder until the incisions have completely healed.

 

Traveling

 

Do:

  • Ride in the car on short trips (up to 30 minutes). If you go on longer trips, stop every hour and walk around.
  • Wear your seatbelt when riding or driving.

 

Do Not:

  • Do not drive until you are fully capable of controlling the car and are able to react normally in a sudden emergency. For most patients, this is 6 weeks after surgery.

 

Socializing

 

Do:

  • Visit with friends.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Check with your doctor before you drink alcohol.

 

Do Not:

  • Do not socialize in large crowds or with others who have contagious diseases, colds or flu, until you have regained your strength, usually 6-8 weeks.
  • Do not participate in active sports.
  • Do not drink alcohol if you are on medication. 

 

Having Sex

 

Sexual activity can be resumed even before  major healing has occurred. The amount of work required of your heart during sexual intercourse is about the same as climbing two flights of stairs or walking two blocks at a brisk pace.          If these activities present no problem for you, you should have no problem having sex with your usual partner. Follow the guidelines below.

 

Do:

  • Do what is comfortable for you.
  • Follow these four simple rules:
    • familiar partner,
    • familiar technique,
    • familiar position,
    • familiar environment
  • Foreplay is recommended. It helps the heart gradually prepare for the increased activity of intercourse.
  • Stop and rest a few minutes if you experience signs of doing too much (chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, palpitations).

 

Do Not:

  • Do not have sex in an unfamiliar or very hot or cold room. 
  • Do not have sex if you are tense or tired.
  • Do not have sex for an hour after eating or after drinking alcohol.
  • Do not lie in a position which keeps you from breathing freely or puts strain or pressure on your sternum.

 

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