While you are in the hospital, your cardiologist may treat your heart failure symptoms in a special critical care unit. Physicians and nurses in this unit are specially trained to provide aggressive medical care and education to you and your family. Your transplant team will follow your progress and help you recover as quickly as possible.
- In the nursing unit, you must ask for medications to relieve your pain or other symptoms (such as nausea). You should request medication to lessen your pain and keep you comfortable so that you may move around and increase your activity.
- If you would like to use other methods of pain control, such as soothing music or relaxation tapes, small tape players with headphones are allowed in the CTICU and in the nursing units.
Deep Breathing and Coughing Exercises
- Continue to practice your breathing and coughing exercises.
- Continue to change your position frequently while in bed.
- Once you are able, get out of bed, sit in a chair or walk around the nursing unit as much as possible.
- Your activity level will begin by sitting in a chair and progress quickly to taking several walks a day on the nursing floor.
- The Cardiac Health Improvement and Rehabilitation staff will guide your progress and will give you a home activity guide to help you to gain strength when you leave the hospital.
- As soon as you are able, you will be assisted to the bathroom to perform your daily hygiene routine (such as brushing teeth and washing up). To help you progress your activity, you will be expected to do this by yourself. If you need any extra help, please ask your nurse.
- You will be asked to keep track of the fluids you drink (your "intake"), the amount you urinate (your "output") and your weight every day you are in the hospital. The nurses also will teach you to monitor your heart rate, blood pressure and temperature so you will know how to manage your care after you go home.
- You will receive information about weight control, medications and self care expectations. Try to review this information and if you have any questions, please ask.
- You will also take part in our "self-medication program." You will also administer your own medications and learn the side effects of immunosuppression.
Changes in Appetite
- After surgery, many patients complain of a poor appetite and changes in how foods taste.
- Eating healthy foods is an important part of healing.
- Try to eat smaller, more frequent meals and choose cold foods.
- If you need help with food choices, ask to speak to a dietitian.
- You may have difficulty sleeping at night. The hospital is an unfamiliar place and some people complain of vivid dreams waking them. Nurses may need to monitor your vital signs (blood pressure and heart rate) at night, which can interrupt your sleep.
- To sleep more comfortably, take your pain medication at bedtime. It may help to use several pillows to support your head, chest and back. Try not to sleep too much during the day so you will be able to sleep at night.
- Most patients stay in the hospital 7 to 16 days after heart transplant surgery. Remember, everyone recovers at a different pace. The transplant team will meet with you daily to update you about your progress and your discharge plan.
- When you are discharged from the hospital, you will receive instructions about your home care from your transplant team and the nursing staff. It is important that you understand your treatment plan. If you have questions, please ask.
Caring for your new heart - at home
- A new heart is a precious gift. Only a small number of those who need a heart transplant receive them. You have been fortunate enough to receive a new heart.
It is up to YOU to take excellent care of yourself and to follow your medical plan.