Ask the expert: Waiting for surgery

A couple walking at the park

My husband is 68 and needs to have coronary artery bypass surgery. He gets angina from time to time, but aside from that, he feels quite well. We’ve been told the waiting time for the operation is a couple of months, and since then, my husband has stopped going out for walks and is scared of doing much in case he makes things worse. How can I help him?

Dr Mike Knapton says:

This is a common situation in my experience in general practice. The wait for surgery, particularly surgery on the heart, can be a very worrying time. It is important for your husband to be as fit as possible before his operation, as this will improve his recovery. Walking is a great way to keep fit and it’s good for your husband to keep as active as his condition allows. Perhaps you could go for walks together, and this might allay his anxiety and improve his confidence.

If he does get angina while walking, it’s important he stops to take a break and uses his GTN spray in the way that his doctor has advised. If the frequency of angina episodes increases, it’s important he informs his GP; it may be that he needs to have his medication reviewed to optimise the management of his angina. If his symptoms get worse and cannot be controlled with medication, it is possible for his GP to contact the local hospital to see if the date of the operation could be brought forward.

Other things that can help him to be as healthy as possible before surgery are to  maintain a healthy weight, and if he smokes, it’s vital to quit.

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