After Your Procedure

After your heart procedure at the Center for Structural Heart Disease at Henry Ford Hospital, you begin your recovery with a brief hospital stay. Our experienced heart specialists and their teams provide superior care to help you achieve your best possible health after your procedure. We start with supervised walking, nutrition, pain management and thorough follow-up care.

The first 24 hours after your heart procedure

After your heart procedure, you move to the cardiac cath lab recovery area for a short time. You then move to a private room in our intensive care unit (ICU) for your first night. Our ICU nurses monitor you 24/7 to ensure that you are recovering safely and comfortably.

Equipment from the heart procedure

Our goal is to remove major lines and catheters (thin, flexible tubes used during the heart procedure) as quickly as possible after your procedure for your comfort. During your ICU stay, you can expect that:

  • The heart monitor will remain attached so that your nurses can watch for changes in your heart rhythm.
  • You will have an IV (intravenous) line in a blood vessel in your neck and another in your arm.
  • If you had a urinary catheter during the procedure, we remove it when your bed rest is complete.
  • If you had a breathing tube during the procedure, we generally remove it before you leave the cath lab or shortly after you arrive in the ICU. However, in some cases you may need to leave it in longer. If you wake up and the tube is still in place, you will still be able to communicate.

Positioning and physical activity during early recovery

Immediately after your procedure, you have a period of bed rest that varies depending on the approach and type of procedure you had:

  • If you had a procedure through the groin area, you need to lie flat for 2 to 4 hours. This period of bed rest is to make sure no bleeding occurs at the site. Your nurse checks your groin site frequently during your bed rest.
    • For an early morning case, you can expect to be sitting up in a chair by the end of the day.
    • If you had an afternoon procedure, you may get up later in the evening or the following morning.
  • If you had a procedure through your chest wall, you will be able to raise your head. As soon as your blood pressure and heart rate are stable, you will be able to sit up in a chair, usually by the following morning.

We provide you with an incentive spirometer, a breathing exercise device that you can use every 1 to 2 hours. The device promotes deep breathing to help prevent lung congestion and infections.

Nutrition after your heart procedure

When the anesthesia wears off and you feel better, you may begin eating ice chips. You can quickly move on to drinking clear liquids and then eating. If you were on dietary restrictions before your procedure, you continue with the same eating plan afterward.

Pain management

We provide medications to help relieve pain and discomfort after your procedure. To help manage your pain, we use a pain rating scale that uses numbers from 0 to 10. This standard scale helps us evaluate your pain experience over time.

Your nurse asks you to rate your pain on a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 is no pain and 10 is the worst pain ever. Our goal is to keep your pain rating at 2 or less. If you have pain greater than 2, we give you pain medication.

If you are concerned about taking too much pain medicine, understand that it’s important for your recovery to control your pain. As you recover, you will need less and milder pain medication.

Guidelines for visitors in the intensive care unit

At Henry Ford Hospital, we understand the importance of having the support of family and friends in your recovery and healing. Our visitation policy supports a culture of safety and embraces a family-centered care philosophy.

Providing the best possible care for you is our first priority, and our visitation policy for the ICU includes the following guidelines:

  • Patients in the ICU may have 2 visitors at a time.
  • General visiting hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Children under age 12 may not visit in the ICU.
  • You can make arrangements with the nurses for 1 person to spend the night in your room, based on the nurses’ discretion.
  • The nurses may ask visitors to leave during patient care periods.
  • Flowers and live plants are prohibited in the ICU.

Food options

  • Your visitors may bring their own food and drink to the hospital, or they can visit the Henry Ford Hospital café or restaurants.
  • Food and drinks are not permitted in the ICU. Visitors may eat either in the waiting area or other designated areas, such as the cafeteria or hospital restaurants.


To control infection, visitors may not use the patient’s bathroom or shower, or lie down in the patient’s bed. Please ask a staff member for accommodations.

Cell phone use

To maintain patient privacy and promote a healing environment, visitors may not use cell phones in the ICU and other units, as determined by the unit.

Belongings from home

Our patients may not bring any personal belongings from home into the ICU. We recommend that you pack a bag with disposable personal items for your family to bring when you move to the general care area.

Moving to the general cardiac care unit

As soon as we determine that your health has progressed, you can move to a general nursing unit. If your recovery is going exceptionally well, you may be discharged from the hospital directly from the ICU, without an additional stay on a general unit. While you are here, we continue to watch your heart with a wireless heart monitor.

Nutrition during recovery

For the first few days after your procedure, you may have a reduced appetite. It’s important that you drink fluids and eat enough food to help in your recovery. If you have special dietary considerations, let your nurse know.

Guidelines for visitors

Guidelines for visitors to the general care area are similar to those of the ICU:

  • General visiting hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Children age 12 and older may visit if accompanied and supervised at all times by a responsible adult other than the patient.
  • You can make arrangements with the unit staff to allow children under age 12 to visit.
  • You can make arrangements with the nurses for 1 person to spend the night in your room, based on the nurses’ discretion.
  • The nurses may ask visitors to leave during patient care periods.
  • Visitors may bring flowers and live plants to patients on the general care unit.

Through Guest Services, we offer guest housing on campus so that your family members can stay nearby. Call (313) 916-3299 in advance to make arrangements.

Leaving the hospital after your heart procedure

Depending on the type of procedure you had and your overall health, your hospital stay may be 3 to 4 days. Talk with your Henry Ford care team to decide how long you need to stay.

Tests to evaluate recovery progress

Before you leave the hospital, you may need one or more tests to monitor your progress. Your Henry Ford care team will let you know which tests you need.

The tests we typically use at this stage of your treatment include:

  • Echocardiogram (echo) to check your heart’s function after the anesthesia wears off from the procedure
  • Chest X-ray, if necessary, to see how well your lungs are functioning

Physical activity after your heart procedure

Our skilled physical and occupational therapists meet with you while still in the hospital to evaluate your physical ability. If you need short-term rehabilitation, our case management staff can help you make arrangements.

Depending on your overall health and individual needs, you may need one or more of the following:

  • Assistive devices such as a walker or cane to help with mobility
  • Home healthcare support to manage other conditions
  • Physical or occupational therapy to help you regain strength
  • Cardiac rehab to focus on rebuilding cardiovascular health


If you were taking heart medications before your heart procedure, you will most likely continue taking them after leaving the hospital. We reassess all of your medications when you are discharged and at your follow-up visit to make adjustments and add or drop medications.

Follow-up care

After your procedure, you will need to come back to the care team at the Center for Structural Heart Disease for follow-up care. We recommend checkups at 1 month and 1 year following your procedure. You also continue to work with your primary care physician and regular cardiologist to manage your health after the procedure.

Going home after your heart procedure

Your care team works with you to transition to home or to another facility, such as a rehabilitation center or assisted or skilled nursing facility. Read all about how to plan for going home and recovery, including having someone stay with you for the first week or longer.

Minimally invasive heart procedures: What to expect

Find out everything to expect at each step of your care journey with the expert team at the Center for Structural Heart Disease:

Get the heart care you need.
Let us help you schedule an appointment with a cardiologist.

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