There are many types of heart surgery. The type you need depends on your situation. One person's experience before an operation can be very different from another's.
Some people carefully plan their surgeries with their doctors. They know exactly when and how it will happen. Other people need emergency heart surgery. Others are diagnosed with blocked coronary arteries and are admitted to the hospital right away for surgery as soon as possible.
If you're having a planned surgery, you may be admitted to the hospital the afternoon or morning before your surgery. Your doctors and others on your health care team will meet with you to explain what will happen. They will give you instructions on how to prepare for the surgery.
You also may need to have some tests, such as an EKG (electrocardiogram), chest x ray, or blood tests. An intravenous (IV) line will be placed in your arm to give you fluids and medicines. Hair near the incision site may be shaved. Your skin may be washed with special soap to reduce the risk of infection.
Just before the surgery, you will be moved to the operating room. You will be given medicine so that you fall asleep and feel no pain during the surgery.
This answer from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has been reviewed and/or edited by Dr. William D. Knopf.