Preparing for the Road Ahead
Recovery from a major surgery is tough, but you can be prepared with all the information you need to make it go as smoothly and quickly as possible ahead of time. These resources are meant to give you an idea of what to expect and prepare you with knowledge about how to best approach your own recovery. Below is a list of some common questions patients have asked in the past.
Q: When I squeeze the handles, it doesn’t seem to give me support. How can I adjust my Heart Hugger for increased support? A: The chest strap is velcro, which means it is easily adjustable to what is comfortable and supportive to you. If there is not enough tension on the chest strap, there will not be any change in pressure when the handles are squeezed. If the handles are touching before you squeeze them, they are too close together and your chest strap needs to be adjusted. Simply undo the velcro holding each handle and pull it toward your back to bring the handles further away from one another. They should be centered on your sternum with a few inches between them. Enough that they are separated, but you are still able to grab them both with one hand.
Q: The chest strap is riding up and rubbing under my armpits. How can I adjust the Heart Hugger to be more comfortable under my arms? A: The shoulder straps are also adjustable! They are kind of like suspenders in how they are connected to the chest strap. The shoulder straps control the height of the chest strap and level of the handles. Simply adjust to lengthen the shoulder straps to give your arms more breathing room.
Q: How high should the handles be on my Heart Hugger? A: For men, the handles should be mid sternum bone with the middle of the handles falling around the nipple line. They should lay centered on and equidistant from your sternal wound. For women, the handles should rest above the breasts. For additional detail, see our sizing and fitting page.
Q: The back of the chest strap rides up my back. How do I adjust my Heart Hugger to fix this? A: If the back of the chest strap is riding up your back while you are sitting or lying in bed, lean forward with support if needed and have a family member or caregiver gently adjust the strap downward while lifting the handles back up into proper position. Do not attempt to reach behind your back yourself. Reaching behind you can cause excessive strain on your wound.
Q: When I’m using the Heart Hugger, can I use both hands to squeeze the handles? A: Yes, you can use one or both hands to squeeze the handles, but when sizing and fitting the Heart Hugger, be sure the handles are one hand’s length apart.
Q: How long do I wear Heart Hugger? A: Patients wear Heart Hugger for 4-6 weeks. We recommend you wear your Heart Hugger from the time it’s put on in the ICU throughout your hospital stay. You can then adjust Heart Hugger to fit over your street clothes and continue to wear it as needed for about 4-6 weeks after you are at home. It can and should be worn both day and night, except when you are bathing.
Q: Can Heart Hugger be washed? A: Yes, we recommend you use a mild detergent and air dry it.
Q: What is the pouch on the front of my Heart Hugger for? A: The pouch is intended to be used by nursing staff for your wireless telemetry unit which tracks your vital signs. Once home, some patients continue to use the pouch as an additional pocket to store your remote, phone, or other items to keep nearby.
To discuss sternal support options,