Project Rise-Up: Helping Women Recover from Cardiac Surgery

November 1, 2017

The Heart Hugger bra

One thing we know about women’s hearts is that they are different. Gender differences have been identified in the recognition, treatment and recovery from heart disease related illness, but there are anatomical differences that can affect a woman’s recovery from cardiac surgery. One post-surgical issue women face is finding an appropriate bra to wear. Breast tissue can be heavy and this can put strain on an already tender chest incision. To decrease pain and promote healing, wearing a properly fitted bra reduces the weight of breasts pulling on the chest.

As an Advanced Practice Nurse (APN) for cardiac surgery, Anne Stolarik has witnessed countless female patients struggling with finding the right undergarment to wear after recovering from their operations. Anne tested many different post-operative bra styles with her patients, but settled on the Heart Hugger bra. “This garment is especially important in pain management and overall comfort for our female patients after surgery. It helps to relieve strain on the chest wall and hopefully promote healing,” said Anne.

Anne Stolarik, Advanced Practice Nurse for Cardiac Surgery

The Heart Hugger Bra is a latex-free, all cotton support system for women to wear after cardiac surgery. Women are measured before their surgery and the appropriately sized bra accompanies the patient’s chart to surgery, so that it is readily available when needed. It can be worn in the operating room once the surgery is complete, or within the first hour of arrival to the cardiac intensive care unit.

With the assistance of the Heart Institute’s Patient Alumni, 200 Heart Huggers have been purchased for project Rise-Up. Each unit costs $70, and offering these to patients when they need it the most is a welcomed gift. Anne admits that although some women are reluctant to try it, the majority are relieved once they’ve been properly fitted. To date, more than 100 women have benefited from this garment. This is a perfect example of one of the numerous initiatives with the mandate and raison d’être of the Alumni, which is, provide comfort and support to the UOHI patients.

Anne Stolarik fits a patient with a Heart Hugger bra, a latex-free, all cotton support system for women to wear after cardiac surgery. Photo credit: CTV Ottawa

The Heart Institute is committed to excellence in patient care. Part of this commitment is providing our patients the right treatment by the right team at the right time. Thanks to Anne Stolarik’s tireless dedication to her patients and the Alumni’s participation in project Rise-Up, women recovering from heart surgery at the Heart Institute can find a little comfort in knowing that a personalized approach was at the heart of their recovery from cardiac surgery.

Watch the CTV News Ottawa clip below to learn more about Project Rise-Up.

Heartfelt Support: As a nurse retires from the Ottawa Heart Institute, she leaves an uplifting legacy for its female patients.