Heart Surgery Survival Guide For Patients and Caregivers

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Duen's First Bath at Home after Quadruple Heart Bypass Surgery

One spouse, when asked how he coped with the changes after his wife experienced a cardiac event, stated:. Actually, we have a great relationship and I would do absolutely anything for her, and if anything, it made us closer and happier and I was glad to help out. I just do it. Among the cardiac patients in the study, support from family, friends, and colleagues; having confidence in healthcare professionals; and attempting to adhere to diet and physical activity guidelines were the primary means of coping with their illness.

In the words of one patient, when asked how he coped:. Well, I have my husband, you know, and my sister, they are there if I need any help and I also have them to lean on if I need it.

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I have my family group for support. I need to get on the treadmill or the elliptical anywhere from 3 to 5 days per week.

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Post Surgery Milestones: Managing Your Mood, Expectations and Goals

Caregivers shared a variety of thoughts with the researchers when asked what kind of educational programs and services they would like to see provided by the hospital for them as caregivers of cardiac patients. Alternatively, they would prefer the educational materials to be prepared in printed form and mailed to them. I believe that you should be given a whole packet of information, with sections that talk about: I think there should be a section that says ok, you are going to be under some stress.

If you need to meditate, if you need to do yoga, these are the places that you may be able to go.

There should be a whole packet of suggestions. You could provide nutrition classes or information about the illness or even make some phone calls to people and share information with them that way…you could mail something, a brochure or booklet or some other kind of printed material to homes. Two caregivers expressed that knowing more about practical skills for taking care of the patients after hospital discharge would be helpful:. However, another caregiver recommended a hotline for caregivers to call if they needed help and support:.

I suggest a hotline. Patients had similar ideas for educational programs or services, with the addition of wanting to receive more information directly from their healthcare providers. Very few patients expressed interested in reading printed material. What most people need is just teaching as far as nutrition goes and exercise, and just somebody to help them get to do those things you know or to teach them how to do those things.

Everybody goes for check-ups at primary care, maybe they could give people a little incentive about exercise and diet and things like that, or suggest a nutritionist. This study provides important insight into the experiences of cardiac patients and their informal caregivers and adds to the small body of existing literature that addresses the needs of this population.

Options and Considerations for Heart Valve Surgery

In examining the 4 areas of support, challenges, coping, and program delivery, the goal was to identify firsthand what the most pressing issues were, to inform the types of programs and services that would best meet the needs of cardiac caregivers and, ultimately, the patients. Both groups reported family, friends, and colleagues as their main sources of support and expressed the need for more involvement of their healthcare providers in their recovery process. Financial issues were also a concern reported by caregivers, especially in cases in which medical insurance did not cover such services as an ambulance ride to the hospital, and the lack of income given that one partner may not be able to work any longer.

This is a challenge expressed by both caregivers and patients. This finding is consistent with research showing that cardiac caregivers often experience higher levels of strain and depression and lower social support than noncaregivers do. Issues surrounding follow-up care and the need to learn more about symptoms of particular cardiac events such as a myocardial infarction or a stroke were also a major concern among cardiac caregivers.

Concordant with our results, Kettunen et al 15 found that the spouses of cardiac patients who have had a myocardial infarction suffered psychologically by feeling stressed about the occurrence of another myocardial infarction, financial issues, the recovery process, and the possibility of losing their spouse to heart disease. They also found that spouses felt vulnerable and unsupported in the caregiving experience, experiencing fatigue, sleep disturbances, anxiety, and tension, 15 all of which were clearly voiced by the participants in our study.

The cardiac patients in our study reported physical issues of fatigue, pain, lack of sleep, and psychosocial factors such as depression as major challenges after discharge, potentially affecting their long-term recovery. Similar to our results, Knoll and Johnson, 6 in a study of 8 caregivers of postsurgical patients, found that caregivers emphasized the importance of follow-up care from nurses and other healthcare providers in the postdischarge period. Therefore, the findings may not be transferable across all communities. Future research may consider replicating our results in a larger, more heterogeneous sample in terms of race and socioeconomic status.

An additional limitation of the study would include the self-selection of the participants in the study. In conclusion, this study has served to shed light on the human challenges, needs, and experiences of cardiac patients and their caregivers; these findings may help to inform preventive interventions designed to help improve quality of life in both caregivers and patients, and help caregivers improve CVD outcomes. These findings may also help healthcare providers to identify and empower cardiac caregivers such that they may render the best care possible to the patients in their care and foster positive patient health outcomes.

Options and Considerations for Heart Valve Surgery | American Heart Association

The authors have no funding or conflicts of interest to disclose. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Author manuscript; available in PMC Jan 1. The publisher's final edited version of this article is available at J Cardiovasc Nurs. See other articles in PMC that cite the published article. Objective The purpose of this qualitative study was to assess the challenges, needs, and personal experiences of cardiac patients and their informal caregivers to explore the types of programs and services that would be most beneficial in promoting adherence to national CVD guidelines among cardiac patients and their caregivers.

Conclusion These findings may inform the development of educational interventions targeted to cardiac caregivers so that they may be more effective in assisting the patients in their care to adhere to national CVD prevention guidelines. Data Collection Demographic data were collected via standardized questionnaire. Qualitative Data Analysis The data derived from this qualitative study were analyzed by conventional content analysis; this method was selected because it is appropriate when there is limited research in a particular topic area.

Establishing Trustworthiness Several measures were taken to ensure the integrity and rigor of this qualitative research study, using the criteria established by Lincoln and Guba 23 to ascertain the trustworthiness of qualitative research, including credibility, dependability, confirmability and transferability. Results The characteristics of the participants are presented in Table 1. Open in a separate window. Knowing the cardiac diet, reading food labels, etc.

CVD, cardiovascular disease; TV, television. In the words of one female caregiver: Challenges The caregiving experience was not without its challenges.

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The frustrations with grocery shopping for food for her husband, the cardiac patient, were expressed by another caregiver: A patient who was admitted to the hospital for heart failure exacerbation shared his regrets of not being able to do the activities he had become accustomed to: One year-old male patient expressed his challenges with diet adherence in this way: One male patient who was awaiting cardiac surgery verbalized his challenge with medications like this: The issues of financial challenges surfaced in the words of one female patient: Coping Caregivers credited family, friends, and colleagues with helping them to cope with their stress during their times of need.

Some caregivers sought help from mental health professionals to assist them in coping with their new challenges: Another caregiver,when asked how she coped, stated: One spouse, when asked how he coped with the changes after his wife experienced a cardiac event, stated: Bypass surgery can give your ticker a big health boost. A surgeon removes a blood vessel, called a graft, from another part of your body, like your chest, leg, or arm. He attaches one end of it to your aorta , a large artery that comes out of your heart.

Then, he attaches the other end to an artery below the blockage. The graft creates a new route for blood to travel to your ticker. If you have multiple blockages, your surgeon may do one or more bypass procedures during the same surgery. Nurses will be there to help you. You may feel worse right after surgery than you did before. Best of all, the surgery can add years to your life.

Why Do I Need It? Exercise whenever your healthcare provider says you can, even you start out just shuffling down the hospital corridor.


Many people find that keeping some sort of routine is very helpful for staying positive during recovery, too. Even if I wasn't going anywhere, it helped me develop a daytime routine and a nighttime routine. It also made me feel that I was emotionally going somewhere because I was dressed to take on the day. By week three, she started making time for social opportunities. Before I began cardiac rehab, I had a chart that told me how much I needed to walk and how many times a day. At week two, I started with minutes times a day.

I would check it off the chart, even though I just walked laps within my home. The dog thought it was strange at first, but then he started walking laps with me. I know recovery is different for everyone, but again, if I had not been given such specific instructions I would not have known how much I could walk or the importance of moving to lower my risk of stroke. I was moving much more than I thought I would be.

The more you celebrate your small victories each day and notice the moments of gratitude, the more positive you will likely feel about your progress. This checklist is also available in Spanish PDF.