Heart Care After Cardiac Surgery
Watch for a Temperature
If your baby is less than 3 months old and develops a fever higher than 101 degrees F that does not decrease with acetaminophen or continues to recur, call us.
If your child has no signs of a cold, and has a fever higher than 101 degrees F for two consecutive days, call us.
When to Call Us
Call us if your child experiences any of the following:
- Persistent cough
- Swelling of the face or legs
- Problems with feeding, such as vomiting
- Lethargy, extreme tiredness, loss of energy
- Rapid or difficult breathing
- Excessive sweating
- A change in skin color (pale or blue)
- Redness or drainage from the incision
You can reach us at:
- Cardiology: 312.227.4100
- Cardiovascular-Thoracic Surgery: 312.227.4240
What's Safe, What to Avoid
Avoid people who have active colds or illnesses. Encourage hand washing with all visitors and family members.
Your child may participate in quiet activities. If there is one flight of stairs in the home, your child may climb them, preferably with a parent close by.
Your infant should not require restricted activity. No immunizations until six weeks after surgery. If your infant has a problem with their heart that can cause them to turn blue, they should not be allowed to cry for extended periods of time.
For the first month after surgery, avoid large crowded areas such as grocery stores, malls or movie theaters to avoid exposure to common illnesses like colds and the flu.
For the first six weeks after surgery, avoid strenuous activities (i.e., cycling, swimming or roughhousing).
When to Return to School & Daycare
Your child can return to school as early as two weeks after coming home from the hospital. At your follow-up visit, ask about the return to school. Consider starting with half days, and working up to full days.
We recommend keeping your child out of day care for at least two weeks, preferably four weeks, to avoid exposure to common illnesses, like colds and the flu.
Your child should not participate in physical education for at least six weeks, or until a doctor or nurse practitioner gives them the OK to do so.
What Your Child Should Eat
Your child may eat the same foods they did prior to surgery unless otherwise specified. It is a good idea to limit the amount of salt in the diet, which causes the body to retain water.
Keep Steri-Strips Dry
Steri-strips (paper tape) hold together your child's incision. Be sure to keep these strips dry. Young children may have sponge baths and older children may shower if they can keep the steri-strips dry. After one week, steri-strips will be removed during your follow-up visit.
Care for Your Child's Incision
Once the steri-strips are removed, wash the incision with soap and water daily. If the incision is draining, cover and change bandage daily.
Avoid overstretching the incision for at least two weeks after discharge from the hospital. Encourage your child to stand up straight, as they may tend to bend forward to protect the incision
If your child's incision is under their arm, also encourage use of the arm on the same side as the incision.
Protect the incision from direct sun exposure; use clothing and sun block (SPF of 15 or greater).