You are now on the road to recovering after your heart surgery.\nThe days you spend in the hospital after your surgery are critically important. You have already come a long way. And while there’s a light at the end of the recovery tunnel, you still need to spend some additional time in the hospital to monitor your condition after surgery and ease you on the road to wellness.\nHere you will find information about what you need to do during your time in the hospital after heart surgery to help you recover. Please remember to always talk with your care team about your own personal plan of care.\nYou just had heart surgery. What happens next? Click To Tweet\nActivity in the Hospital\nAs you start to wake up from the anesthesia and can handle a change in position, your nurse will raise the head of your bed. It is very important to your recovery that you move early and often.\nPlease do not try to get out of bed by yourself. Your nurse will assist you to sit on the edge of the bed and later to a bedside chair as you continue to progress. You will start by sitting up in a chair and progress quickly to walking. Each day you will increase the distance you walk. You should expect to walk three to six times a day. As you become steadier, you will be walking on your own or with family.\nAn important part of recovering is to get out of bed and move. Increasing your activity improves:\n\nBlood flow\nBreathing\nA sense of well-being\n\nThe lists below are day-by-day goals for you as you get stronger after surgery. There is a list for each of the first 4 days after your surgery.\nDay One of Heart Surgery Recovery\n\nGet out of bed for all meals and keep your legs raised while in the chair. Exercise your calf muscles by pointing your toes up and down several times each hour.\nWalk to the bathroom and in the halls one to four times with the help of the nurse or cardiac rehab staff.\nUse the incentive spirometer or Acapella\u00ae tool at least 10 times each hour.\nCough and deep breathe often. Use the chest pillow for added comfort and support.\nAsk for pain medicine every three to four hours, if needed.\n\nDay Two of Heart Surgery Recovery\n\nStay up in a chair with your legs lifted up for most of the day. Exercise your calf muscles by pointing your toes up and down several times each hour.\nWalk in the halls three to six times with the help of the nurse or cardiac rehab staff.\nContinue to cough, deep breathe, and use the incentive spirometer or Acapella\u00ae each hour.\nContinue to keep your pain under control.\n\nDay 3 of Heart Surgery Recovery\n\nIncrease your walking time and distance with cardiac rehab staff, nurse, or your family. Exercise your calf muscles by pointing your toes up and down several times each hour.\n\n\nStay up in a chair most of the day.\nRemember to keep your legs raised while sitting.\nWalk in the halls three to six times with the help of the nurse, cardiac rehab staff, or your family.\nContinue to deep breathe, cough, and use the incentive spirometer or Acapella\u00ae tool each hour.\nWork with your care team and family to plan for your discharge.\nTake a shower if you are feeling well enough.\n\nDay Four of Heart Surgery Recovery\n\nContinue to increase your walking time and distance. Walk in the halls three to six times with the help of the nurse, cardiac rehab staff, or your family.\nAdd stair climbing with the help of cardiac rehab staff.\nContinue to cough, deep breathe, and use the incentive spirometer or Acapella\u00ae tool each hour.\nContinue to keep your pain under control.\nContinue discharge planning with your care team.\n\nBefore Leaving the Hospital\n\nYou will get complete information about your activity.\nIf you are going home, you should be fairly steady on your feet and need very little help.\nIf you need to go to a rehab or skilled care unit, you will continue your activity progression.\n\nControlling Your Pain\nManaging of pain is an important part of your recovery. Easing the pain will help you to feel better and heal better. Pain medicine also helps more effectively perform your breathing and walking exercises, so you can avoid additional health ailments.\nTell your nurse before the pain becomes too bad. By taking the pain medicine as soon as you feel uncomfortable, the pain will be easier to control. For the care team to better understand and help lessen your pain, you will be asked to rate your pain on a scale of zero to 10, with zero being no pain and 10 being horrible pain.\nWhen you’re facing and recovering from heart surgery, it’s important to arm yourself with the facts and know what you can expect in the days and weeks ahead. To learn more about heart surgery at UPMC, check out our What to Expect: Heart Surgery booklet.