What to Expect

How Do I Prepare for My Heart Procedure?

It's normal to worry about a heart procedure, whether you're having a heart screening, an outpatient procedure or major surgery. When you know what to expect, you can rest easier and look ahead to your results and recovery. The Banner Health heart care team is here to answer your questions and help you prepare with all the information and reassurance you need.

Communication & Collaboration

You're focused on the procedure, we're focused on you. We communicate with you and your family during the entire process, and we provide education and information to help you make informed decisions. We continue to provide support throughout your recovery and beyond.

What Happens During a Stress Test?

Stress tests are among the most common diagnostic tests for heart problems. A stress test can help detect coronary artery disease, a condition caused by atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries. The arteries harden because of the buildup of plaque – excess cholesterol, calcium and other substances that float in the blood –and this buildup limits blood flow to your heart.

Depending on your symptoms, your doctor may order one of these types of stress tests:

  • Exercise stress test
  • Exercise stress test with nuclear imaging
  • Pharmacological (medication) stress test with nuclear imaging
  • Exercise stress with echo imaging
  • Dobutamine (medication) stress test with echo imaging

You don't need to follow any special instructions before your stress test. But, you may want to wear loose, comfortable clothing to your appointment.

After you arrive, one of our team members will take you to the stress test room where a technician will attach small stickers with metal disks (electrodes) to your chest. The technician will attach wires from the electrodes to an electrocardiogram machine so our heart care team can monitor your heart during the stress test. We'll also monitor your blood pressure and oxygen level.

You may need to walk or run on a treadmill or ride a stationary bike during your exercise stress test. If you have a medication stress test, you will get medication through an intravenous (IV) line.

How Do I Prepare for Heart Surgery?

Before your surgery, you will meet with your doctor to get specific instructions for your surgery. Follow your doctor's directions for the day of your surgery.

When you arrive at the hospital, a staff member will admit you and take you to the pre-op holding room. There, your team of nurses and doctors will get you ready for surgery.

You will receive general anesthesia in the operating room (OR). The OR staff will connect you to a breathing machine and other devices that monitor your vital signs and give you medication.

How Does Heart Surgery Work?

If you are having a minimally invasive procedure, you may have one or several small incisions. Open-chest surgeries, including open-heart bypass surgery and some valve replacement surgeries, require an incision in the middle of your chest. Some types of surgery also require an incision in your leg or groin to get to your arteries or remove a vessel to be used for heart surgery.

We will update your family on your condition during your surgery. Once the surgery is complete, your team will take you to the intensive care unit (ICU) and monitor you closely.

What Happens Right After Heart Surgery?

Most people experience some pain after surgery, although everyone responds a little differently. Your team will work with you to help manage your pain and make you as comfortable as possible while you recover. During your stay in the ICU, your family members and friends can visit you for short periods of time.

Once you are stable, we'll take you to your hospital room. You can expect to stay in the hospital 4 to 5 days, although it could be longer, depending on the type of surgery and your recovery.

When you're ready to go home, we'll give you a prescription for pain medication and instructions on how to get better at home. Your doctor will let you know when you can go back to work and drive. Your team will also talk to you about a plan for cardiac rehabilitation.

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