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kelseylj, March 24,  2021  10:53am EST

Unsure what to expect

Hi everyone, New here! My 68 year old father went into the hospital with chest pain last friday. He is currently getting a triple bypass. What is "normal" for post op? How much help will he need? My younger brother still lives with him, but works a lot. My dad is used to being independent. (mom passed away last year) and I live about 25 miles away.

I was thinking I could make ahead some meals so it is easier for him to get food, but beyond that I'm not sure what else to do.

Any suggestions or advice?

3 Replies
  • AHAModerator
    AHAModerator, March 24,  2021  4:16pm EST

    Hi there,

    Thank you for reaching out on your father's behalf. I can imagine how difficult this must be. Unfortunately, I am not a medical professional, but if you're unsure, I encourage you to reach out to his cardiac care team or others here on the support network. Here is a resource that may help with preparing for the recovery from surgery. Please let us know what your father's doctor says and how he is feeling.

    Best wishes,

    AHA Moderator

  • kelseylj
    kelseylj, March 24,  2021  4:57pm EST

    I spoke to the surgeon about an hour ago. It all went well, I do plan on consulting with the medical team at the hospital, but figured I'd reach out for anyone else experiences. I want to try and help as much as I can without disrupting my normal schedule too much!

    He actually ended up getting a quadruple bypass! They said his heart is strong and healthy though, so even though it sounds like he was a heart attack waiting to happen, it also sounds like we caught it fairly early.

  • JamesPL
    JamesPL, March 24,  2021  7:59pm EST

    Hi Kelsey,

    I had a quintuple bypass about 10 years ago. It takes a lot out of a person and the recovery period is lengthy (3 months or more) but you and he will notice his strength increasing each week. It's great news that his heart is strong and healthy. I was told the same thing. The first piece of advice I would give you both is to be patient. When he first comes home, it will be a struggle for him to do anything that requires much effort. I was told to walk twice a day. The first walk I took, I got the end of my driveway and had to come back inside because of sheer exhaustion. But each day, I noticed improvement. The second piece of advice I would give is to listen to the doctor and do exactly whay they recommend. Also, don't hesitate to contact him/her with any questions you might have. Regarding doctor's recommendations and recovery, I strongly recommend cardiac rehab. He won't be able to do that for another six to eight weeks so his sternum can heal but the rehab will help him progress in gaining strength and it is a good motivator as well as mentally stimulating. The PTs are very helpful and encourage patients to continue to exercise beyond rehab which I also would encourage. I've done that for the entire ten year period after my surgery and I'm doing well. I happen to have had a stress test yesterday and had excellent results as far as my heart's performance. Any form of exercise such as brisk walks, gardening, biking is good. Whatever he enjoys doing. Definitely consult with his doctor about this especially regarding cardiac rehab.

    For his immediate needs, as I mentioned, he will have difficulty when he first comes home so making him meals is a good first start. But if you could take some time and be with him for at least the first couple of weeks, that would be good help for him. if you think your brother could help him, that's fine but someone should be with him when he first comes home. He might also have difficulty sleeping at first. I had to sleep on my back which I found difficult. I propped up a number of pillows under my torso and that helped. They did tell me I could sleep on my side but with the sternum needing to heal and not being allowed to push up my body (he'll be limited to lifting no more than 15 pounds), I found that impossible. 

    Regarding meals, I was told to eat whatever I wanted for the first month and not concern myself with cholesterol. It was more important for the body to heal short term and worry about the diet afterword according to my doctors. 

    Get him a shower seat. This is part of the exhaustion I had mentioned. Standing for long periods at first is very tiring. Before I left the hospital, I took a shower and when I was done, all I could do was immediately make my way to the bed and sit. I was exhausted. My wife had gotten a shower seat for home and it helped immensely. Also, if you can install a handheld shower, that will help as well. Almost have to have it if showering sitting down.

    I hope some of this helps. If I can think of anything else, I'll post it but feel free to ask any questions. I'll be happy to answer as best I can.

    Wish you all the best!


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