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Lifestyle adaptation of the patient post coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG)


Many patients have an unrealistic gloomy perception of their prognosis despite realistic appraisals, together with an understandable explanation of the pertinent clinical features of the disease. It has been established that the incidence of psychological complications and postoperative psychosis is higher in cardiac surgery.

Long-term cognitive changes post CABG has received less attention and, as up to 42% patients perform below baseline level, it is understandable that doubt and uncertainty becomes part of their lives. Patient-perceived quality of life after CABG proved about one-quarter of the interviewed expressed dissatisfaction concerning their present quality of life. The aim is to determine whether an effective lifestyle adaptation program post CABG could enhance the quality of life of the CABG patient.


A qualitative study in which the experiences, as lived, of the patient and his/her family postoperatively was described in naïve sketches. The approach was phenomenological This was completed in a period 2 weeks-2 years post CABG. In the naïve sketch, the patients were asked to summarize their anxieties, uncertainties and new demands after the CABG.


Among the patients studied, the context being a cardiothoracic unit where the patients received assistance in the recuperative phase, 57% summarized anxieties, 37% summarized uncertainties and 60% summarized new demands post CABG.


The major surgical intervention, the coronary artery bypass surgery, the operation procedure itself, engrosses the patients' psyche in such a manner that limitation of space is left for the thought of lifestyle adaptation thereafter. If intensive care is truly to develop as a speciality it has to understand the complete path of the illness process. The critical care nurses are the lifelines in these criteria. More time should be spent and more support should be provided in the recuperative phase post CABG. A rehabilitation program is warranted.


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Du Toit, C., Bornman, J. & van Belkum, C. Lifestyle adaptation of the patient post coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG). Crit Care 7, P255 (2003).

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  • Cognitive Change
  • Illness Process
  • Phase Post
  • Complete Path
  • Present Quality