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Check out these newly released Special Health Reports from Harvard Medical School
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You can't buy good health but you can buy good health information. Check out these newly released Special Health Reports from Harvard Medical School:

Five ways to speed recovery from bypass surgery, from the Harvard Heart Letter

As one type of open-heart surgery, coronary artery bypass grafting is a big operation. Although it's a remarkably safe procedure, recovery can be difficult. In the December 2012 Harvard Heart Letter, a Harvard-affiliated cardiac surgeon and cardiac intensivist offer five tips for recovering as quickly as possible.

Bypass surgery is done to restore blood flow to the heart muscle when coronary arteries become narrowed or blocked by cholesterol-filled plaque. Each year, more than 400,000 Americans undergo this operation.

Five key factors affect recovery, according to Dr. R. Morton Bolman III, the chief of cardiac surgery at Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Dr. James Rawn, a cardiac intensivist at the Brigham:

Stay active before surgery. Some level of physical fitness helps counteract the immobility of recovery.

Quit smoking. Not smoking before and after the operation reduces the odds of developing pneumonia or other complication.

Don't diet. When the body is under stress, it tends to break down muscle. Healing requires calories, especially from protein. Long-term changes in diet may be needed later, but a healthful diet helps recovery.

Keep a positive attitude. Some people become depressed after bypass surgery. A positive attitude can influence how quickly you become active again.

Take medications as prescribed. Bypass surgery may restore blood flow to the heart muscle, but the disease that caused the blockage is still there. Taking medications as prescribed helps avoid the need for another bypass surgery down the road.

Read the full-length article: "Recovering from coronary bypass surgery"

Also in this issue of the Harvard Heart Letter

  • Breakthrough in mitral valve treatment
  • Ask the doctors: Do I really need a statin?
  • Ask the doctors: Can I have heart surgery while taking pain medication?
  • Ask the doctors: Is it safe to stop taking my antiplatelet therapy?
  • Stem cell therapy for heart disease
  • Treating resistant hypertension
  • Recovering from coronary bypass surgery
  • Choosing options for life-sustaining care
  • Green tea may lower heart disease risk
  • Heart Advances from Harvard: Radial artery grafts prove durable
  • Heart Advances from Harvard: Potential cure for type 1 diabetes
  • Heart Advances from Harvard: CABG vs angioplasty in kidney disease

More Harvard Health News »


About Harvard Health Publications

Harvard Health Publications publishes four monthly newsletters--Harvard Health Letter, Harvard Women's Health Watch, Harvard Men's Health Watch, and Harvard Heart Letter--as well as more than 50 special health reports and books drawing on the expertise of the 8,000 faculty physicians at Harvard Medical School and its world-famous affiliated hospitals.