Heart valve surgery fixes or replaces a damaged heart valve. Your doctor did the surgery through a cut, called an incision, in your chest.
You will feel tired and sore for the first few weeks after surgery. You may have some brief, sharp pains on either side of your chest. Your chest, shoulders, and upper back may ache. The incision in your chest may be sore or swollen. These symptoms usually get better after 4 to 6 weeks.
You will probably be able to do many of your usual activities after 4 to 6 weeks. At first you may notice that you get tired easily and need to rest often. It may take 1 to 2 months to get your energy back.
Some people find that they are more emotional after this surgery. You may cry easily or show emotion in ways that are unusual for you. This is common and may last for up to a year. Some people get depressed after this surgery. Talk with your doctor if you have sadness that continues or you are concerned about how you are feeling. Treatment and other support can help you feel better.
After surgery you may need to take a medicine (called a blood thinner) that prevents blood clots. If your doctor prescribes a blood thinner, it is very important to take the medicine exactly as directed.
Be sure to tell all your doctors and your dentist that you have had heart valve surgery. This is important, because you may need to take antibiotics before certain procedures to prevent infection.
Even though the surgery fixed your heart valve, it is still important to eat a heart-healthy diet, get regular exercise, not smoke, take your heart medicines, and reduce stress. Your doctor may recommend that you work with a nurse, a dietitian, and a physiotherapist to make these changes. This is sometimes called cardiac rehabilitation.
This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to get better as quickly as possible.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:
Go to http://www.healthwise.net/ed
Enter E886 in the search box to learn more about "Heart Valve Surgery: What to Expect at Home."
Current as of:
April 26, 2016
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
© 2006-2016 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.