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Fluid Control After Heart Surgery

After heart surgery, some patients may have added fluid volume. Most patients leave the hospital back at their pre-surgery weight. But some patients are slower at removing the excess weight or have problems with extra fluid volume when they get home.

To help you balance your fluids after heart surgery, your doctor may ask you to:

  • Avoid adding salt when cooking.
  • Avoid processed foods.
  • Read food labels for sodium content.
  • Eat a low-salt diet (2,000 mg of sodium a day).
  • Walk daily as advised.
  • Weigh yourself each day.
  • Take a medication to remove excess fluid if needed.

Other symptoms of increased fluid include decrease in energy level and dizziness.

It is important to notify your doctor or nurse as soon as possible to prevent any problems related to excess fluid.

For more information: See your Guide to Cardiac Surgery binder. If you have any questions or concerns, please call the Heart and Vascular Institute Post Discharge Phone Line at the number you were provided or your doctor’s office.

This information is about care at Cleveland Clinic and may include instructions specific to Cleveland Clinic Heart and Vascular Institute patients only. Please consult your physician for information pertaining to your care.

You may return home with some swelling in your legs and feet, especially if you had vein graphs taken from your legs. If you notice swelling:

  • Place your feet up higher than your heart level when resting. One way to do this is to lie on your bed or couch and put several pillows under your legs. Or, you may lie on the floor and place your feet on the couch. Try this three times a day for one hour to relieve swelling. (Note- recliners do not adequately elevate your feet).
  • Do not cross your legs
  • Walk daily even if your legs are swollen
  • Hospital support hose may be suggested

Call your doctor if swelling in your leg(s) become worse or painful and/or associated with increased fatigue and/or shortness of breath.

  • Weigh yourself each morning before breakfast.
  • Compare the day’s weight with your dry weight (Dry weight equals one pound less than your weight the first day home from the hospital).
  • Call your doctor if you have a weight gain of 1 to 2 pounds per day for two days.
  • Increased shortness of breath since you left the hospital.
  • Shortness of breath that occurs more easily or at rest.
  • Difficulty speaking without becoming short of breath.
  • Shortness of breath while lying down at night.

Reviewed: 1/13

Talk to a Nurse: Mon. - Fri., 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. (ET)

Call a Heart & Vascular Nurse locally 216.445.9288 or toll-free 866.289.6911.

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This information is provided by Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition.

© Copyright 2015 Cleveland Clinic. All rights reserved.

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