Vanderbilt Transplant

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General Guidelines

One of the most important actions you can take to improve your symptoms of heart failure is to limit your sodium (salt) and fluid intake. Sodium attracts water, and too much sodium causes extra fluid to build up in the body. This extra fluid creates more work for the heart and worsens the heart failure. In addition, you should follow the recommended American Heart Association diet: Low Fat (less than 30 grams per day) and Low Cholesterol (less than 300 grams per day).


It takes about three months for the breast bone to heal, so protect this area from stress during that time. Avoid heavy lifting and pulling or pushing (usually over 5 pounds for a child and over 10 pounds for an adult). For instance, don't lift children or groceries, or push or pull furniture. Once the breast bone is healed, however, you can carry out these activities without any concern.

Everyone should exercise consistently to help tone and condition all the muscles in the body including the heart muscle. Walking is an excellent form of exercise and should become part of your regular routine even after you are fully recovered from the operation. An alternative is to use an exercise bicycle which could be used indoors and substituted for walking. The exercise physiologist will provide an exercise program for you to follow after discharge. Swimming in clean pools is permissible once your chest incision is well healed. It is best to avoid swimming in lakes or rivers that tend to be less clean.

Every Day:

  • Check your radial pulse and record the rate on a sheet.  
  • Weigh yourself every day and record the amount on a sheet. An increase of 2 or more pounds in 24 hours would be considered abnormal.
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