Cardiac (heart) surgery

Cardiac (heart) surgery can be a big stress to your body. It can take months to recover. It is normal to feel tired and worn out. It may take weeks for your breathing and exercise tolerance to return.

Many people will have their cardiac surgery through the breastbone (sternum). The breastbone will take 6-8 weeks to heal. It is likely your surgeon will ask you not to drive and to be very careful during that time. 4-6 weeks off driving is enforced by the road traffic authorities in each state. It is important to abide by this.

Some people will have their surgical wound in another place than the breastbone. This may heal more quickly. Your surgeon will give you instructions.

Cardiac rehabilitation and return to work

Cardiac rehabilitation exercise programmes are important and helpful in your recovery. Returning to work will depend on the type of work you do. It is likely that you will not be able to resume heavy work for approximately 3 months.

Remember you have had a major surgery. It takes time but you will see improvement over the coming weeks and months. If you feel unwell or have new symptoms then don't hesitate to seek medical attention.

Related topics

This topic was reviewed by an intensive care medicine specialist on 31/07/2022.

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