Cardiothoracic Nutrition Therapy
Following a heart-healthy diet can help prevent heart disease, heart attacks, and blockages in your arteries. Healthy food habits also help to lower high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and excess body weight.
During the days and weeks after surgery, you may not have completely regained your normal appetite. It is important for you to eat adequate calories and protein to help facilitate the healing process.
Once you have healed and are able to get back to normal, make sure that you have made the necessary heart-healthy changes in your diet for your long-term nutrition needs. Review the materials and information provided to you by your registered dietitian before you were discharged from the hospital.
Individuals with diabetes need to pay particular attention to blood sugar control for post-surgery healing. If you find that your blood sugars are out of control even if you have been taking your medications on time and you have been following your prescribed diet, you may need to contact your primary care physician for further help.
Before you leave the hospital after your surgery, you will be seen by a registered dietitian. Your dietitian will work with you to help devise a nutrition plan that is right for you. This is your time to ask questions about your diet. To be better prepared for your session with the dietitian, think of what questions you may want to ask her and write them down ahead of time.
Frequently Asked Questions
What type of diet should I follow before surgery?
You can start to make changes for the better in your diet even before you have surgery. Your diet should be low in sodium, saturated fats, total fat, and cholesterol. Refer to the TLC diet information on this webpage to see what types of foods you should be eating and avoiding.
What will I be able to eat immediately after surgery?
After you have surgery, your surgeon will determine when it is ok for you to start eating again (usually within a day or two). You will be started on a liquid diet first to make sure that you are able to tolerate anything going into your stomach. Most patients will transition to solid foods by day 2-3 after surgery. At this point you will be served a "cardiac, heart-healthy" diet similar to what is outlined in this webpage.
What if I am diabetic, how will my diet change?
If you are already following a diabetic diet, chances are that you will not have to make drastic changes to what you are already doing. Your dietitian will determine if and where you need to make changes in your diet.
It is important for you to have good blood sugar control, especially after surgery, to help the healing process. Your dietitian will discuss your meal plan and your blood sugar goals with you.
I also have chronic kidney disease; will my diet be even more restrictive?
Depending on what stage of kidney disease you have, your dietitian will determine what your diet should be.