Patient Compliance & The Clinical Pathway

Smiling Doctor and Patient

The Heart Hugger Sternum Support Harness

Heart Hugger is U.S. FDA Classified, Medicare Approved, and conforms to European Medical Device Directive. Heart Hugger is an excellent and more effective alternative to using sheets, pillows, or towels to “splint” wounds after thoracic surgery.

How it Works

Heart Hugger is a simple harness that fits over the shoulders in a way similar to a backpack or vest. With multiple adjustable straps, it can easily be fitted to patients with different body types. The four-inch belt around the chest is fitted with handles on either end. The handles are situated so that the patient can squeeze both handles with one hand which tightens the chest belt and creates encircling pressure. This pressure supports the chest wall and stabilizes the sternal wound. The chest belt remains loose and comfortable when not activated by the patient. Used in conjunction with contemporary methods of wiring the sternum and suturing tissue layers, sternal wound stability is achieved. Chances of sternal infection are reduced and chances of sternal dehiscence are virtually eliminated.

Why it Works

The patient is fitted with their Heart Hugger prior to surgery so it is sized appropriately and ready to wear immediately after. Caregivers assist the patient into the Heart Hugger immediately after extubation. The patient can continue to wear Heart Hugger after discharge from the hospital for about four to six weeks giving them comfort and pain management at home. This helps patients continue their breathing exercises after surgery with reduced pain and increased confidence. This control and comfort helps patients feel stable and more willing to participate in recovery. These feelings make the process less stressful and decrease the risk of complications after surgery.


To discuss sternal support options,