After the surgery you may be taken to the recovery room before being taken to the intensive care unit (ICU) to be closely monitored. Alternatively, you may be taken directly to the ICU from the operating room.
You will be connected to monitors that will constantly display your electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) tracing, blood pressure, other pressure readings, breathing rate, and your oxygen level. Coronary artery bypass surgery requires an in-hospital stay of several days or longer.
You will most likely have a tube in your throat so that breathing can be assisted with a ventilator (breathing machine) until you are stable enough to breathe on your own.
As you continue to wake up from the anesthesia and start to breathe on your own, the breathing machine will be adjusted to allow you to take over more of the breathing. When you are awake enough to breathe completely on your own and you are able to cough, the breathing tube will be removed. The stomach tube will also be removed at this time.
After the breathing tube is out, your nurse will assist you to cough and take deep breaths every two hours. This will be uncomfortable due to soreness, but it is extremely important that you do this in order to keep mucus from collecting in your lungs and possibly causing pneumonia.
Your nurse will show you how to hug a pillow tightly against your chest while coughing to help ease the discomfort.
The surgical incision may be tender or sore for several days after a CABG procedure. Take a pain reliever for soreness as recommended by your physician. Aspirin or certain other pain medications may increase the chance of bleeding. Be sure to take only recommended medications.
You may be on special IV drips to help your blood pressure and your heart, and to control any problems with bleeding. As your condition stabilizes, these drips will be gradually decreased and turned off as your condition allows.
Once the breathing and stomach tubes have been removed and your condition has stabilized, you may start liquids to drink. Your diet may be gradually advanced to more solid foods as you are able to tolerate them.
When your physician determines that you are ready, you will be moved from the ICU to a post-surgical nursing unit. Your recovery will continue to progress. Your activity will be gradually increased as you get out of bed and walk around for longer periods of time. Your diet will be advanced to solid foods as you tolerate them.
Arrangements will be made for a follow-up visit with your physician.