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Heart Surgery Patient Guide

Staying in the CT Unit

Doctor with patient.After your stay in the ICU, you will be sent to the CT Unit, where your health care team will follow your progress and help you recover as quickly as possible.

Resuming Activity

You should be able to increase your activity once you are relocated to the CT Unit. Begin by sitting in a chair and slowly increase your activity until you are taking several walks a day.

As soon as you are able, you will be assisted to the bathroom to perform daily hygiene, such as brushing teeth and washing. You will be encouraged to do this on your own to help speed your recovery, but you should always ask your nurse if you need any help.


An important part of healing is eating healthy foods. After surgery, you may have poor appetite and food may taste different. If this happens, try to eat smaller, more frequent meals and choose cold foods. If you have trouble eating or choosing what food to eat, talk to one of our dietitians for advice.


Because of surgery and postoperative care (nurses monitoring your vital signs during the night), and because the hospital is an unfamiliar place, you may have problems sleeping at night. To help you sleep, take your pain medication half an hour before bedtime. Arrange your pillows so that you are in a more comfortable position. Try to avoid napping during the day so that you will be able to sleep at night.

Mood Swings, Anxiety and Depression

A serious procedure like surgery can create many personal and family stresses. It is not uncommon for patients to experience mood swings, anxiety and perhaps depression following their surgery, hospital confinement, and return home. Please talk to your doctor or social worker if these emotions persist.


When you are transferred from the ICU to the CT Unit, visitors may include other relatives and friends in small numbers. Please ask your visitors to observe the floor visiting hours. If this creates a problem, please discuss it with your doctor or one of the nurse coordinators.

Your visitors should continue to wash their hands before visiting you. It is necessary for each visitor to wear a mask and gloves. For your safety and the safety of other patients on your floor, friends and relatives should not visit if they have signs of infection such as cots or the flu. For more information on visiting hours and rules, please refer to the USC Cardiothoracic Surgery Guide for Visitors.


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