At Riverside Regional Medical Center, the routine patient should be off the ventilator (breathing machine) by the first day after surgery. The patient is fully awake and should be able to get out of bed to the chair. Some people start to walk by the end of the day. Chest drainage tubes are often removed, as well as monitoring lines and possibly the bladder catheter. A liquid diet is given at first, advancing to solids as tolerated. Some people will be moved out of the intensive care unit (ICU), but others will require an additional day in the ICU. This is the pathway for the routine patient, and it does not apply to those who have more complicated operations and/or additional pre-existing medical problems. Those patients will often require a longer stay in the ICU, sometimes additional time on the ventilator, and they may have a slower recovery overall.
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The day after cardiac surgery is like a hangover. The patient often has difficulty “clearing the cobwebs” as he/she is asked to get up, walk around, cough and breathe deeply. It is important, however, to break the cycle and start on the road to recovery.
Typically, on the day after cardiac bypass surgery, you will:Learn deep breathing and coughing exercises
Drink clear liquids and, as tolerated, eat solid food
Move out of intensive care.
Wear a small, portable device that monitors your heart rate