After heart valve replacement surgery, a doctor usually encourages people to resume eating as soon as possible. A healthy and varied eating plan can benefit cardiovascular health and help prevent potential complications.
Heart valve replacement surgery is a procedure someone may require if they have
Valves in the heart open and close as the heart beats to allow the blood to flow. However, damage can cause them to become leaky. This may result in a heart valve not closing properly, which can allow some blood to flow back through it.
After surgery, it is important to follow a doctor’s guidelines on postoperative care to ensure a successful recovery. This can include following a suitable eating pattern to help support cardiovascular health.
This article focuses on sensible eating options after heart valve replacement surgery and foods to limit.
According to the
- a variety of fruits and vegetables, particularly antioxidant-rich dark-colored types
- whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, oats, buckwheat, barley, whole grain bread, and spelt
- healthy proteins mostly from plants, including soy, beans, lentils, split peas, nuts, and seeds
- fish and seafood
- low fat or fat free dairy products
- lean cuts of meat and poultry
- liquid plant oils in moderation
- minimally processed foods
People should speak with their healthcare team about foods and drinks they suggest limiting or avoiding after surgery. For example, a doctor may recommend avoiding alcohol, caffeine, and salt.
- foods with added sugars, such as sweet treats, cakes, biscuits, cereals, pastries, sauces, and syrups
- red and processed meat and poultry with skin
- processed foods and snacks that may contain high amounts of sugar, fat, and salt
- full fat dairy products, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt
- foods containing higher amounts of salt
- alcoholic beverages, if applicable, including beers, wines, and spirits
- sugary drinks and sodas
According to the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS), a person who undergoes aortic valve replacement usually stays in the hospital for around a week. Similarly, other sources note that after open heart surgery, a person will wake up in the ICU and remain there for observation for up to 2 days. They will then go to the regular surgical unit for up to 5 days.
Following surgery, the breastbone will usually heal in 6–8 weeks, but it may be 2–3 months before a person fully recovers. The speed of a person’s recovery may depend on several factors, including general health and age. As such, it may take several months to return to their usual activities.
People must take the medications their doctor prescribes following surgery to avoid further complications.
They can also ensure they adhere to healthy heart
- eating a healthy diet
- staying physically active after suitably recovering from surgery
- managing weight
- avoiding smoking, vaping, and inhaling secondhand smoke, if applicable
Health experts usually advise a person to resume eating as soon as possible following heart valve replacement surgery. However, surgeons may advise patients to limit specific foods and drinks, such as salt, caffeine, and alcohol (if applicable).
Guidance for keeping the heart healthy recommends eating a whole food diet, including plant proteins and healthy fats, and avoiding saturated fats, added sugar, and excess salt.
In addition, it is advisable for people to manage their weight, maintain physical activity, and avoid tobacco and alcohol to support their long-term heart health.