Everyday Recovery Boosters After TAVR
Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) is a minimally invasive heart valve surgery that addresses a condition called aortic stenosis, which occurs when the valve on the primary artery leading to the heart no longer functions correctly. It’s a procedure that’s offered to high-risk patients in part because it’s less invasive than a traditional valve replacement surgery and less likely to cause certain complications, like bleeding during or after surgery. Recently, intermediate-risk patients also gained the option for this less invasive procedure.
Since it’s minimally invasive, TAVR is also associated with a shorter recovery time. That’s good news for anyone who’s about to undergo this procedure. You’ll have a relatively short recovery period after surgery, but it may take you some time to maximize the benefits of having undergone this surgery. Get the most out of your recovery time by deliberately planning out some strategies to help you move forward in a healthy, productive way.
One of the best things you can do for your heart and the rest of your cardiovascular system after TAVR is to get moving.
Move around more. Set your watch or an alarm on your phone for a reminder to get up and stand up once an hour. When the alarm sounds, stretch and walk around for a few minutes.
Walk longer distances. Don’t drive around the parking lot, looking for a close parking place. Park further away from your destination and use the longer walk as an opportunity to log a few more steps. Take it easy and take your time.
Go to the gym. Being active in general is helpful, but after your procedure, your doctor is likely to advise you to get some regular exercise, too. Walking is a great way to get started, but you can also dance, swim, bike, or even jog if those appeal to you. Whatever you choose, start out slow and build up so you don’t unintentionally overdo it and get discouraged. Also, check in with your doctor about starting any new activity.
Caution: if you start experiencing chest pain when you’re active or notice you’re having palpitations or feeling dizzy, don’t ignore these warning signs. Sit or lie down immediately and rest. Call your doctor’s office and describe your symptoms.
Focus On the Positive
If you make a concerted effort to focus on the positive, you might find that taking a positive view becomes a habit—a good habit. Start with this positive piece of information: you just recovered from an important surgery and now have opportunities to do the things that your health may have limited in the past.
Start a gratitude journal. Research shows that people who look for ways to be grateful and express that gratitude tend to be happier. Write down something you’re grateful for every day in your journal. Try to look beyond the obvious things, and soon you’ll find yourself noticing even more things that matter to you.
Make a “bucket list.” Have you always wanted to learn to tap dance? Ride a horse? Learn to fly fish? Visit a particular city? Make a list of things that you want to do and plans for how you might achieve them—so you can look forward to doing them.
Reframe your attitude. Have you ever said, “I can’t do this”? Consider changing that negative statement to something more positive, such as “I’ll do the best I can.” The American Heart Association suggests that positive self-talk is a good way to calm yourself down when you’re feeling stressed over overwhelmed. It might even spur you to try something new!
Spend Time With Your Loved Ones
A great way to get a positive jolt of energy during TAVR recovery is to spend time with the people most dear to you. Whether it’s family, neighbors, or friends, carve out some time with the people who make you feel happy and loved.
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