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HealthSheets™

After Heart Valve Surgery

For the first 6 to 8 weeks after surgery, you’ll gain a little more energy and strength each day. Your healthcare provider will discuss what you can and can’t do as you recover. You’ll have good days and bad days. Remember to take things slowly and rest when you get tired.

Man and woman walking briskly in comfortable clothes.

Walking

  • Walking pumps blood to your heart. This improves blood flow throughout your whole body.

  • Begin with a short walk (maybe 5 minutes) and walk for a little longer each day.

  • Choose a safe place with a level surface. This might be a local park or mall.

  • Wear shoes with good support. This will help prevent injury to knees and ankles. 

  • Walk with someone. It’s more fun and helps you stay with it.

Showering

  • Avoid using very hot water. It can affect your circulation and make you dizzy.

  • Ask someone to stand nearby in case you need help.

Driving

  • Let others drive for the first 3–6 weeks after your surgery.

  • Motion can make pain worse and injury your breastbone.

  • Some of your medicines may make you drowsy.

Easing into activity 

  • After a few weeks, you can start doing light work around your home.

  • Most healthcare providers advise against lifting anything that weighs more than 5 pounds. Your provider may give you a different weight limit.

  • Don't do mowing or vacuuming. These can strain your breastbone.

  • Your healthcare provider can advise you about the best plan for returning to work.

  • Unless your provider tells you otherwise, you can resume having sex as soon as you feel comfortable.

Medicines your healthcare provider may prescribe

  • Your healthcare provider may prescribe a blood-thinner (anticoagulant) medicine. This medicine prevents bleeding or blood clots that could lead to a stroke.

  • Your provider may prescribe an antibiotic. This helps prevent infection that could scar and destroy your heart valve. You will be told when to take this medicine. That might be before dental work, surgery, or medical procedures.

© 2000-2017 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.