How long does it take to recover from heart surgery?

Most patients are able to go home within five to seven days following open heart surgery. A patient can expect to be fully recovered after three months.

Specific recovery time frames for heart or cardiac surgery vary from person to person, depending on their procedure and their overall physical health. Generally, most patients leave the hospital 4-5 days following surgery. Most patients will continue to need the help of family, friends, and/or home nursing care during their first week back at home. It usually takes 4-6 weeks for the breast bone and chest muscles to heal, and patients gradually return to their usual daily routine.

Recovery time after heart surgery varies depending on the invasiveness of the procedure. Open-heart surgery, which is required for coronary artery bypass and some valve replacements, will warrant a stay in the hospital first in the intensive care unit (ICU), then to the medical floor for approximately 3 to 10 days total. The sternum (breast bone) takes from six to eight weeks to heal, so activity will be limited and then gradually increased after this time.

For less-invasive surgeries such as angioplasty, stent placement or ablations, total recovery will be much less. Most people will go home the same day of the procedure. Light activity is encouraged within days and advancement to normal activity and exercise is usually obtained within one month.

All of this can vary according to the patient's baseline health as well as possible surgical complications.

Continue Learning about Heart Disease Treatment

Is High-Intensity, Interval Exercise Safe for Heart Patients?
Is High-Intensity, Interval Exercise Safe for Heart Patients?
For the last several decades, cardiologists and exercise physiologists have recommended regular aerobic exercise to improve cardiac function and lower...
Read More
What is hypovolemic shock?
Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)
Hypovolemic shock is a condition in which the body does not have enough blood pumping to sustain the...
More Answers
Should I tell my cardiologist that I take a CoQ10 supplement?
Richard T. Leshner, DORichard T. Leshner, DO
You should tell your cardiologist that you take a coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) supplement. CoQ10 may be used...
More Answers
What Types of Heart Diseases are Treated with Surgery?
What Types of Heart Diseases are Treated with Surgery?

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.