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Assistance after discharged from valve surgery
Hello everyone. About a year ago, I was diagnosed with aortic valve stenosis. I didn't have any symptoms back then, but my cardiologist indicated that I will eventually have them and will require valve replacement surgery in the future. Well, recently I began to experience chest tightness, rapid heart beat and shortness of breath during lengthy conversations. So, I'm starting to think about it and preparing for the possibility of surgery in the near future. I'm 55 and live alone. I have a sister and niece but they live far away. I don't have close friends to rely on. So, my question is what are the options for post surgical assistance and care. Should I go to a nursing facility after release from the hospital or hire an attendant to assist me at my home? Are there other places for patients without family? I like start researchig and preparing. This site has been wonderful. Thank you all.
AmbassadorC, August 2, 2019 7:27pm EST
A warm welcome PK203 to the support network! Rest your heart that you are among a community of Heart Warriors of all four valves - the mitral and aortic on left and tricuspid and pulmonic on the right. While I can only speak to the mitral valve, I can assure you that as any heart valve patient, what you are feeling in terms of researching a replacement is absolutly on key to being proactive about your heart health. Communication is key when relating any signs or symptoms to your cardio team.
While I can only speak to a mitral repar via open heart surgery, from my experience, working with the surgical liasons in advance of my surgery was very helpful. While I am not certain if your valve will be replaced via a transcather, as the aoritc valve has been perfected in terms of replacement, or wether you will have to have a replacement via open heart surgery, you may want to begin your inquiry first in terms of procedure of the replacement. In my experience, this will dictate the amount of post surgical assistance you will need. For me, having open heart surgery, while having some assistance, was accompanied by several in home, nurse visits. This will vary depending on your insurance coverage, so you also may want to check in advance if your carrier provides this option. The nurse checked my swelling, blood pressure, INR levels and overall well being. This provided me with me with ease, as there was someone from the medical side of the house checking in on me. I would defintily recommend, if you are able.
Lastly, I invite you to view the AHA Heart Valve Resource Center, if you have not already done so. It provides robust resources and considerations for planning a winning post surgical recovery. Post Surgical Recovery Plan One of my favorites is a downloadable PDF that provides a post surical milestone which I have attached.
Please do let us know how we can assist with your recovery plan as well as questions to ask before surgery. If you would like, I am happy to share with you the questions that I prepared in advance of my surigcal consult that may also assist in your post recovery plan.
AmbassadorB, August 2, 2019 8:32pm EST
It has been my pleasure and good fortune to have the opportunity of meeting and attending instructional Heart Association meetings with Ambassador C. Her experience and comments about heart procedures and post operative considerations are valuable points worthy of your consideration. I am one of the fortunate ones that had a TAVR procedure (Trans Catheter Aortic Valve Replacement) and continue to be impressed with the amazing absence of pain and minimum inconvenience during the post operative phase. I was more than 20 years older than you are now, when I had my Aortic Valve replaced, and experienced no post operation difficulty. Plus: The quality of my life has been totally restored as a result of the operation! Go For it !
Your Cardiologist will most likely be able to recommend a smart (personal) plan for post operative care and assistance. I had a loved one and close neighbors that made my recovery period "a walk in the park", and I would recommend a close team of good folks committed to your support and care. Support and care at home would be my first choice.
All the best!
Ambassador B (Bernie)
AmbassadorMR, August 4, 2019 9:50am EST
Ambassadors Christine and Bernie have provided excellent insight and suggestions. I would simply add that as you lack family or close friends to rely on for your recovery, that you investigate short term rehab facilities that the hospital can refer you to for your recovery period. The type and duration of assistance that you will need will depend on several factors. How you as a patient heal and recover is an individual response and cannot always be predicted ahead of time. Also as Bernie mentioned, if you are a candidate for a TAVR aortic valve replacement your recovery process will be different than if you have an open chest procedure.
Do your best to educate yourself here on the site and around the web and work with your medical team and hospital social worker to pre-plan your post-op time period. Needless to say we on the support site wish you a successful procedure and full recovery. Stay strong!
Yours In Heart Health,
Glenna29, August 8, 2019 11:59am EST
I had open chest aortic valve replacement this past February. Have done good all Praise to God !! To the lady that is having replacement she will need help with cooking cleaning etc for a few weeks your doctor will give you a list to go by
i suggest if you don’t have a remote control recliner it would be of great help to you. If you had someone to come in during the first couple weeks that would be helpful
hope all goes well for you
Renok75, August 30, 2019 1:17pm EST
Hi, I am 10 months post surgery, and had very similar symptoms to you. The symptoms will just increase. Surgery will save your life and extend your life. I opted for the bovine valve so as not to have to take blood thinners (warfarin etc) for the rest of my life as I would with a mechanical valve. (Porcine might be too weak for you.)
I would suggest that you have someone stay with you for the first 3 weeks at least after surgery. The first week is a must. You will probably only be in hospital 6-10 days at most, but you will need help. At the very least get home health care to come in to do cooking, cleaning and laundry. You will not have energy, as your body and heart have had a major trauma, and you will need emotional and physical support. Do not take this lightly.
Do not take opioids for too long as your body will become dependent if not addicted. Switch to tylenol or equivalent 2 weeks after surgery.if at all possible.
My energy after 10 months is much better than I expected. The key is to just gradually do a little more each day, but be very smart about it, and don't overdo it too soon.
Wishing you the best.