Heart Disease And Heart Attack

Physical Activity following Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting



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CABG or Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting is a surgery which provides a second life to those who suffer from blocked coronary arteries and therefore from symptoms related to ischemic heart diseases. It is a surgery performed with high degree of success than what it was few years back with the aid of modern technology although lot of its success does rely on how the patients are managed post operatively. Physical activity is one of the determinants of a successful outcome and each and every person undergoing this surgery as well as their care givers needs to know the basics of how to incorporate controlled physical activity following a heart bypass surgery for a faster and for an effective recovery.

First few days:

The initial few days following a CABG will be spent in the intensive care unit and the health care professionals will asses you closely before trying to introduce physical activity. In many instances, the patients will be asked to climb down from the bed after the first 24 hours and will allow to move around the bed slowly in the next 24 – 48 hours depending on your response following surgery.

After few days in the ICU, a CABG patient is usually moved to a regular ward setting and during the stay the doctors will recommend certain physical activities either with or without the help of a physiotherapist. These will include, walking around, climbing stairs, breathing exercises…etc which would not be giving any chest discomfort or fatigue.

Following discharge:

The physicians will advice you on the type of exercises that you should undergo at home at the time of your discharge and these can vary from one person to another depending on the complexity of the surgery, age, other co-morbid factors as well as on the expected level of physical activity. Thus, following are some useful hints as to what are the permitted physical activities during the course of recovery.

-Make a written schedule of the activities permitted and their intensity level, duration, frequency and the time to initiate from the day of the surgery. This plan should be made in consultation with your physician before getting yourself discharged and should be updated according to your response during the follow-up visits.

-Select low impact activities such as walking, swimming, cycling…etc in the initial period.

-Start with short sessions such as the ones lasting for 5 – 10 minutes and gradually buildup into lengthier sessions lasting from 30 – 60 minutes.

-Try to achieve a frequency of at least 3 – 5 times per week in the post recovery period.

-Do not do exercises which feel like putting strain over the sternum till about 2 months from the time of surgery. At the same time, traditional strength training exercises should be avoided in the initial recovery period.

-Be comfortable while you perform your exercises and make use of the heart rate as a guide to determine the intensity of the exercises.

-Stop exercises as soon as you feel a chest pain or an angina pain and call your physician immediately.

-Practice proper cool down methods after exercise to prevent any undue effects over the cardiovascular system.

Apart from these tips, adhering to the prescribed medications as well as to a healthy dietary plan would also support the potential of the physical activity to make a person recover quicker than usual following a coronary artery bypass surgery.

More about this author: Dr Pandula Siribaddana

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