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Open Chest Maze Procedure
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
An open chest maze procedure is heart surgery done to treat atrial fibrillation.
- Blood thinners help prevent blood clots. Examples of blood thinners include heparin and warfarin. Clots can cause strokes, heart attacks, and death. The following are general safety guidelines to follow while you are taking a blood thinner:
- Watch for bleeding and bruising while you take blood thinners. Watch for bleeding from your gums or nose. Watch for blood in your urine and bowel movements. Use a soft washcloth on your skin, and a soft toothbrush to brush your teeth. This can keep your skin and gums from bleeding. If you shave, use an electric shaver. Do not play contact sports.
- Tell your dentist and other healthcare providers that you take anticoagulants. Wear a bracelet or necklace that says you take this medicine.
- Do not start or stop any medicines unless your healthcare provider tells you to. Many medicines cannot be used with blood thinners.
- Tell your healthcare provider right away if you forget to take the medicine, or if you take too much.
- Warfarin is a blood thinner that you may need to take. The following are things you should be aware of if you take warfarin.
- Foods and medicines can affect the amount of warfarin in your blood. Do not make major changes to your diet while you take warfarin. Warfarin works best when you eat about the same amount of vitamin K every day. Vitamin K is found in green leafy vegetables and certain other foods. Ask for more information about what to eat when you are taking warfarin.
- You will need to see your healthcare provider for follow-up visits when you are on warfarin. You will need regular blood tests. These tests are used to decide how much medicine you need.
- Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask your healthcare provider how to take this medicine safely.
- Heart medicine is given to strengthen or regulate your heartbeat.
- Diuretics decrease edema (excess fluid) that collects in a part of your body, such as your legs. Diuretics can also remove excess fluid from around your heart or lungs and decrease your blood pressure. You may urinate more often when you take this medicine.
- Blood pressure medicine is given to lower your blood pressure. Take your blood pressure medicine exactly as directed.
- Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Follow up with your healthcare provider or surgeon as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
Heart rhythm checks:
You may need to be monitored for arrhythmias. This will let your cardiologist or healthcare provider know about problems with the rate or rhythm of your heartbeat. Ask your cardiologist or healthcare provider for more information about the following:
- You may need to use a heart monitor at home after your surgery. The monitoring may be done for a period of time such as a week or at regular times such as every month until your heart rhythm is regular. The device used to monitor your heart may be called an event monitor, Holter monitor, or mobile telemetry.
- You may be taught how to check your pulse (heartbeat).
Too much body fluid causes problems with your heart and lungs. Weight gain can be a sign of extra fluid in your body. Check your weight daily and write the results down. Keep track of how much your weight changes each day.
Care for your wound as directed. When you are allowed to bathe or shower, you may need to carefully wash the incisions with soap and water. Dry the area and put on new, clean bandages as directed. Change your bandages when they get wet or dirty.
Activity and rest:
You may feel like resting more after surgery. Slowly start to do more each day. Rest when you feel you need to.
- Ask when you can return to your daily activities. You may need to wait 4 to 6 weeks after surgery. Your healthcare provider will tell you which activities you should avoid after your surgery. These may include driving while you are taking pain medicines. You may also be told not to lift objects that are over a certain weight.
- Ask about exercises that are safe for you. Walking is a good way to improve your overall health and help you recover after surgery. It also helps keep your blood flowing and reduces the risk of blood clots. Other types of exercise can also be an important part of your recovery.
Do not smoke:
If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Ask for information about how to stop smoking if you need help.
Reduce arrhythmia risk factors:
High blood pressure, sleep apnea (pauses in breathing while asleep), and obesity increase your risk of arrhythmias. Talk to your healthcare provider about ways to prevent or manage these risk factors.
Contact your cardiologist or healthcare provider if:
- Your pulse does not feel regular when you check it.
- You are urinating less or less often than usual.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Seek care immediately or call 911 if:
- You have any of the following signs of a heart attack:
- Squeezing, pressure, or pain in your chest that lasts longer than 5 minutes or returns
- Discomfort or pain in your back, neck, jaw, stomach, or arm
- Trouble breathing
- Nausea or vomiting
- Lightheadedness or a sudden cold sweat, especially with chest pain or trouble breathing
- Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
- You have any of the following signs of a stroke:
- Numbness or drooping on one side of your face
- Weakness in an arm or leg
- Confusion or difficulty speaking
- Dizziness, a severe headache, or vision loss
- You feel lightheaded, short of breath, and have chest pain.
- You cough up blood.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.