heart surgery patient diet

An open heart surgery is a major event that takes surgeons 3-4 hours to complete. Usually, the sternum and the heart are opened up to complete the correction procedure. Though it sounds very scary, the procedure is becoming increasingly common these days, what with obesity and cardiovascular diseases on the rise globally.

The recovery procedure takes about 6-12 weeks before you can be pronounced fit to return to your normal routines. Along with exercise, you also need to start eating healthy to enable your body heal and recover. However, its time you changed your diet to a better one as you wouldn't want your arteries getting clogged so soon after a major surgery.

Obesity puts stress on the heart, increasing the need for a greater amount of oxygen, which translates into making the heart work harder to pump greater amounts of oxygenated blood throughout the body. So this means that after the surgery (or even before the surgery), you need to make three important changes to your diet.

First and foremost, reduce your intake of saturated fats and trans-fats as these block the arteries to your heart and brain. Your fat intake should be less than 30% of your daily calorie intake. Fishes rich in omega-3 eaten twice a week are ideal in preventing inflammation of arteries, thus reducing chances of instability and blockages.

Secondly, your doctor would tell you to limit your salt or sodium intake to less than 1,500 mg per day; this helps by reducing fluid accumulation and preventing excessive stress on the heart. Cardiac patients are regularly told to take less than 2,000mg of sodium per day.

Lastly, indulge in a diet rich in antioxidants, which means you need to take in lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. The antioxidants prevent LDL cholesterol from depositing in your blood vessels while the fiber stimulates the liver to produce more of the good HDL cholesterol. Soluble fibers can be found in oats, muesli, beans and lentils. Constipation is a common feature after surgery due to lack of sufficient exercise, lack of dietary fiber and some medications. Eating fresh fruits, vegetables and cereals in sufficient amounts helps at this point.

You will also be asked to cut down on the carbohydrates and sweets in your diet as these not only increase your calorie count and subsequently weight, but they also tend to increase the triglyceride values in the blood.

Giving up on your favorite foods is difficult, so instead of frying them, try baking, boiling or steaming instead. Avoid processed foods as they are usually high in salt, sugars or other elements not suitable for cardiac patients.

After surgery, it's normal for the patient to have some nausea and a poor appetite; in such a scenario, try taking smaller meals, but at frequent intervals. The important thing is that you should be taking in sufficient amounts of all the essential nutrients.

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