RECOVERING AFTER A CARDIAC DEVICE IMPLANT PROCEDURE
After you have had a cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) device or left ventricular assist device (LVAD) implanted, your recovery will depend on the type and extent of your procedure, your general health and any complications.
You can take steps to help your body heal:
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Make sure to protect any incision site or implant area.
- Follow your doctor’s instructions about medications carefully.
- Ask your medical team questions if you need clarification.
- Wait to remove bandages until your doctor tells you to.
Common after-effects of any surgery include:
- Loss of appetite
- Problems sleeping
- Mood swings
You can expect these to disappear as you recover.
THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR
Surgery always carries risk, and it is important to be mindful of how your body is feeling afterward. Your doctor can explain warning signs, including issues specific to your situation, and instruct you about what to do if you have negative symptoms.
It is also important to pay attention to your mental health. Be sure to let your doctor know if you experience:
- A lack of enjoyment of activities you once enjoyed
- Thoughts of suicide or harming yourself
- A tendency to avoid activities, people, intimacy or other situations that may affect your heart rate
- Sadness or excessive anxiety
- Fear of receiving a shock (if you received a CRT-D)
You may experience tenderness at the implant site, which may be normal. However, be sure to call your doctor immediately if the area where your device was implanted becomes painful, swollen or red (whether or not you also have a fever). Other reasons to call include having palpitations (feeling that your heart is pounding or racing), dizziness or fainting.
KEEP YOUR APPOINTMENTS
You will probably have several appointments with your doctor in the days and weeks after your procedure. It is important that you keep these appointments.
At these appointments, your doctor can:
- Be sure that your incision is healing and your device or sensor is working properly
- Make minor adjustments to your device or sensor; your doctor can evaluate information sent from your device or sensor and/or change settings, if needed
- Check your progress during regular follow-up visits
It will also be important for you to keep other follow-up appointments throughout the year. If you are a CRT-D patient, your doctor may need to see you once after you have received a shock; be sure to discuss what to do if you receive a shock from your device.
Your activities will be restricted for a period following the procedure. Your doctor will tell you when you can resume your normal activities, including sexual intercourse and exercise. It is important that you understand why your doctor recommends a specific therapy and that you fully participate in your recovery.
As you recover, your doctor may ask that you:
- Walk, exercise and bathe according to specific instructions
- Refrain from lifting heavy objects
- Participate in physical therapy
- Seek counseling to manage or reduce your stress levels
- Adopt a more heart-healthy diet
If you have a left ventricular assist device (LVAD), swimming and taking a bath are not allowed because the water could get inside the pump and cause it to stop.
INVOLVE FAMILY AND FRIENDS
Discussing what to expect as you recover with those around you can allow you to focus on a healthy recovery. Be sure to keep the lines of communication open with those you love and be clear about how and when you need help.
As your caregivers, family members or friends may want to:
- Attend your doctor appointments with you. This can be quite helpful, as they can take notes, organize any materials you receive, handle appointment scheduling and provide transportation
- Make arrangements for your recovery at home, including providing heart-healthy meals, assisting you with getting dressed and maintaining a stress-free environment
- Watch for signs of complications
- Keep you on schedule with medications and rehabilitation
- Help to keep your spirits up