How you take care of yourself following any type of vascular surgery is one of the most significant factors in your recovery. Simply stated, better aftercare equals faster healing time and a better life.
Always carefully follow your doctor's instructions regarding what you should and shouldn't be doing after your surgery. In general, however, here are some tips that you should keep in mind in order to speed your recovery along:
1. Don't limit your physical activity any longer than necessary.
As soon as your doctor gives you permission to start physical activity again, get started. You may be referred to a physical therapist to help you gradually increase your level of functioning. Put your heart into your physical therapy routine and listen to the advice you are being given. Regular physical activity is absolutely necessary for your long-term health.
2. Don't skip your medication or adjust your dosage on your own.
A lot of patients who have vascular reconstructions need to be on blood thinners. It's very important to follow your doctor's instructions to the letter when you're on these medications. Never skip a dose or reduce your dosage on your own -- even if you think you really don't need them anymore. Reducing your medication too soon can increase the risk that you'll end up with clotting in your stents or narrowing in your arteries.
3. Do everything in your power to stop smoking.
Smoking is one of the biggest health dangers for vascular patients. Ask your doctor about using a drug like Chantix to help you stop smoking. You can also try over-the-counter nicotine gum or lozenges to help you with the nicotine cravings when you first start cutting back the number of cigarettes you smoke every day. If you're really struggling, ask your doctor about referring you to a smoking cessation clinic or therapy for additional support.
4. Adjust your diet according to your doctor's instructions.
Vascular patients often have to change their diets significantly if they want to remain healthy and trouble-free following surgery. Too many patients fall back into bad eating habits that keep too much artery-clogging fat in their diets. If you aren't sure how to change your eating habits, ask your doctor to set you up with a nutritionist for some extra guidance.
Finally, if you have any questions or concerns about your condition following vascular surgery, don't hesitate to contact your doctor's office immediately. Your doctor would much rather you call with a lot of question than take any chances with your health.