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What is the recovery like for surgery to treat cardiac rhythm disturbances?

After surgery to treat cardiac rhythm disturbances people can expect to be in the hospital for about a week. The hospital stay likely will include a day or two in the intensive care unit (ICU) where hospital staff can monitor blood pressure, breathing, and other vital signs. The person also will have a breathing tube for a few hours or possibly overnight, so communication will be difficult. The breathing tube will be removed as soon as the person is awake and able to breathe on his or her own.

Most people can be discharged from the hospital within a week, but recovery continues at home. This is an individual process that is affected by age and general health status, but most people initially need to modify some activities and require a few weeks to re-gain energy levels.

Often a period of “cardiac rehab” or working out at a designated gym a few times a week for reconditioning is recommended.

Many people can return to work within four to six weeks, but this depends on the type of job and general recovery progress. The doctor will provide individualized recommendations for a person's full recovery.

Adopting a healthy lifestyle also will help manage risk factors for developing another cardiac rhythm disturbance. This can include:
  • eating a heart-healthy diet
  • getting and staying active
  • reducing high blood pressure
  • lowering and controlling cholesterol levels
  • losing any excess weight
  • quitting smoking
This content originally appeared online in "The Patient Guide to Heart, Lung, and Esophageal Surgery" from the Society of Thoracic Surgery.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.