Heart surgery corrects problems that affect the heart’s structure and blood vessels. In open heart surgery, surgeons open the chest wall to directly access the heart. This remarkable procedure helps thousands of people every single day.
At Aurora Health Care, our surgeons perform more than 1,500 cardiac surgery procedures every year. Our cardiovascular teams use the latest techniques to skillfully restore people’s heart health.
We are devoted to our work – helping you regain your active life and a healthy heart.
We do more cardiac surgery procedures than anyone in the region. People throughout Wisconsin, northern Illinois and the rest of the U.S. come to Aurora Health Care for superior heart surgery.
That experience means you will benefit from:
Learn more about the care we provide in the Donald and Rosemary Tendick, Sr., Clinic for Advanced Heart Failure Therapies.
Your doctors, nurses and the rest of your cardiac care team will go over your open heart surgery in detail. They can explain everything clearly to you and answer all your questions and concerns.
In the days or weeks before your surgery, your doctor will have you undergo some tests to prepare for your procedure. You may need to come to the hospital for these tests.
Your pre-operative tests may include:
You’ll need to stop taking certain medications before your surgery. We may give you special instructions about diabetes and blood pressure medications, diuretics (water pills) and blood thinners.
The day before your surgery, you’ll need to:
The morning of your surgery, plan to arrive about 2 hours before your scheduled surgery time. Bring your medications with you. If your doctor asks you to take any medications before you arrive, do so with just a small sip of water.
When you’re ready for surgery, we will take you to the pre-op holding area. There, you’ll meet the anesthesiologist – the doctor who specializes in providing medications to relieve pain and put you to sleep.
As you wait for your procedure, a nurse can answer any questions. We’ll also place an IV (intravenous line) into a blood vessel in your arm to deliver antibiotics, drugs that fight bacterial infection.
We use general anesthesia for open heart surgery. You’ll be completely asleep while we prepare you for surgery and during the procedure.
During the surgery prep:
Your procedure is likely to take three to five hours, depending on what’s being done. In general, open heart surgery includes these steps:
In the hours after your open heart surgery:
Read about other people’s experiences with cardiac surgery in our patient stories.
It’s important to get up and moving soon after any surgery, including open heart surgery. Being active helps prevent complications such as pneumonia and blood clots.
You can expect to begin an exercise program the day after surgery. Our cardiac rehabilitation experts will work with you to tailor a program to your overall health and abilities. You may also work with physical and occupational therapists as part of the plan to increase your strength and mobility.
You’ll probably be in the hospital for four to six days after surgery. During that time:
You’re ready to go home when:
Your doctor will schedule follow-up appointments to monitor your progress after surgery.
We recommend that you continue cardiac rehabilitation to regain your strength. We offer cardiac rehab at locations throughout eastern Wisconsin. Find out more about our cardiac rehabilitation programs.