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Discharge Instructions for Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting

Grafts are used near a blocked or narrowed blood vessel. This makes a path for blood to move around it. In this case, the grafts were placed on the coronary arteries. This helps blood get to the heart muscle.

It will take about 4 to 6 weeks to get better. Self-care and medicines will help.

Steps to Take

Wound Care

To lower the risk of infection:

  • Clean the incision site as advised by your care team.
  • Wash your hands before and after cleaning the incision and changing the bandage.
  • Keep the area clean and dry.
  • Do not shower, bathe, or soak in water until the doctor says it is okay.

Small paper strips on the incision will peel off. Remove the strips 1 week after you get home.

If a leg vein was removed:

  • Raise your legs above your heart while sitting.
  • Do not cross your legs.

What to Eat

Follow the diet as advised by your doctor. This will probably include a heart healthy diet that is low in salt and fat.

Activity

Rest and return to activities slowly. You will follow a program to help your heart get better. Also:

  • Do not have sex until your doctor says it is okay.
  • Do not drive until your doctor has said it is safe to do so.
  • Wait to return to work until your doctor says it is okay .

Medications

You may have stopped taking medicine before surgery. You can take it again when your care team has said it is okay.

You may need medicines to:

  • Ease pain
  • Control blood pressure
  • Control heart rate
  • Prevent blood clots

When taking medicines:

  • Take your medicine as advised. Do not change the amount or schedule.
  • Be aware of the side effects of your medicine. Tell your doctor if you have any.
  • Talk to your doctor before you stop taking any prescription medicine.
  • Do not share your prescription medicine.
  • Medicines can be harmful when mixed. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking more than one. This includes over the counter products and supplements.
  • Plan for refills.

Other Steps That May Help

Check your temperature 2 times a day. Weigh yourself every morning. Share this information with your doctor.

New habits can help you get better. Your care team can help you to:

  • Quit smoking, if you need to.
  • Begin an exercise routine.
  • Make changes to your diet. A dietitian can help you with meal planning.

Follow-up

Your doctor will need to check on your progress. Be sure to go to all advised appointments.

Problems to Look Out For

Call your doctor if you are not getting better or you have:

  • Signs of infection, such as fever or chills
  • Excessive bleeding, redness, swelling, or any discharge from the incision
  • Lasting nausea or vomiting
  • Pain that you cannot control with the medicine
  • Problems passing urine, or blood in your urine
  • Gaining more than 4 pounds (1.8 kilograms) within 1 or 2 days
  • Problems breathing or chest pain
  • Pain or swelling in your legs, calves, or feet

If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.

RESOURCES:

American Heart Association
https://www.heart.org

Society for Vascular Surgery
https://vascular.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
http://www.heartandstroke.ca

The College of Family Physicians of Canada
https://www.cfpc.ca

REFERENCES:

Coronary artery bypass. Texas Heart Institute website. Available at: https://www.texasheart.org/heart-health/heart-information-center/topics/coronary-artery-bypass. Accessed April 30, 2021.

Coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/procedure/coronary-artery-bypass-graft-cabg-surgery. Accessed April 30, 2021.

Coronary artery bypass graft surgery: an overview. Nursing Reference Center website. Available at: https://www.ebscohost.com/nursing/products/nursing-reference-center. Accessed April 30, 2021.

Coronary artery bypass grafting. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/coronary-artery-bypass-grafting. Accessed April 30, 2021.

Last reviewed March 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Nicole S. Meregian, PA  Last Updated: 7/21/2021