Going Home after Sternotomy with
Implantation of a Ventricular Assist Device
This handout is a quick review of things you need to know about caring for yourself at home. If
you have questions after you read this, please let us know.
Medicines A pharmacist will talk with you about your medicines and when
to take them at home before you are discharged.
Activity Follow the guidelines set up by your UW Inpatient Cardiac
Wound Care Follow directions given to you by your VAD coordinator.
ξ No showering unless approved by your surgeon.
ξ You must use the shower kit supplied by the VAD vendor in
order to protect the electrical system of your device. Thoratec
patients, follow the special handout given to you by the
ξ Keep your incisions clean and dry. Do not put ointments,
powders, or lotions on your incision.
ξ Check your chest tubes sites, driveline, and incision line daily
for signs of infection: redness, swelling, tenderness, foul
smelling drainage, or fever.
ξ Follow directions for the driveline dressing change.
ξ Keep your chest tube sites and sternal incision open to air
unless they are draining. If they are draining, cover them with
dry gauze when you do your daily dressing change and before
you go to bed at night.
ξ Your chest tube sutures will be removed in 2-3 weeks at a
clinic appointment. Please check that an appointment has been
scheduled for this to be done.
Pain Control It is normal to have some incision pain. Take your pain
medicines as needed.
Call Your Doctor ξ If your temperature is greater than 101ºF.
ξ If you gain or lose more than 2-3 pounds in 1-2 days or more
than 5 pounds in 1 week.
ξ If you have any signs of infection as listed above.
On weekdays between 8am and 5pm, call your VAD coordinator.
After hours and on weekends, call the Heart Failure attending on call
Call 911 if you:
ξ Have severe shortness of breath or chest pain.
ξ Feel like you are going to faint or have fainted.
ξ Have a fast irregular heartbeat while resting for 10 minutes.
ξ Are found unconscious.
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 3/2016 University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#6164