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The Use of Lasix After Heart Surgery

written by: angiem1981 • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 11/28/2010

Lasix and heart surgery tend to go hand-in-hand. Also known as furosemide, this is one of the most commonly prescribed diuretics following cardiothoracic surgeries. However, there are a few things that the patient should know when taking this drug for this particular reason.

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    Why is It Prescribed?

    Lasix is most commonly prescribed post-operatively and serves many different purposes for the cardiac patient. Fluid retention is a common phenomenon following almost any invasive procedure, and furosemide is a diuretic that can help alleviate this. Thus, it is used to help reduce fluid build up and prevent a potentially deadly condition known as congestive heart failure or simply CHF. However, Lasix and heart surgery can also prevent future myocardial infarctions, also known as heart attack and help lower the risk of stroke. This is because the particular diuretic in question is commonly used in patients with high blood pressure.

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    Therapeutic Dose Ranges

    The physician may prescribe Lasix to be taken once or twice a day in most cases. The pill form of this drug comes in various milligrams including 20, 40 and 80 milligram tablets. However, the amount prescribed will depend on several different factors, including whether or not the patient has pre-existing medical conditions and whether or not the prescribed dosage is effective. It is not uncommon for dosages to be adjusted on an as needed basis, up to 600 mg in some patients. The prescribed amount can differ significantly among cardiac patients and is individualized according to needs. The goal is to give the patient the lowest dose possible that will achieve the desired effect, a decrease in edema and prevention of CHF.

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    Potential Side Effects

    Since Lasix is a diuretic, the most common side effect of this drug is frequent urination. Other possible side effects of diuretics may include muscle cramps, fatigue and dizziness. Some patients may also suffer from nausea, vomiting or loss of appetite, which is usually rare. You should always consult your physician or obtain immediate medical attention if you suffer from other adverse effects, such as skin rash, ringing of the ears, fever, confusion or persistent headache as these can be signs of an allergic reaction, dehydration or another significant medical condition. Potassium deficiency may occur with this drug which is related to frequent urination. Your physician may prescribe a potassium supplement or encourage you to increase intake on potassium rich foods.

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    Other Considerations

    When considering Lasix and heart surgery, you should remember that this is just one of the more common pharmacological interventions. Other medications, including different kinds of diuretics may be prescribed in combination with furosemide following heart surgery and some treatments may consist of lifestyle changes. For example, the physician commonly orders a low sodium diet with the treatment to help prevent the build up from fluid. Those with questions or concerns regarding the dosage amount, side effects or any other issues should consult with his or her physician.

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    Bibliography

    Common Medications Prescribed After Cardiac Surgery. The Center for Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery at Hackensack University Medical Center. Viewed 26, November 2010. http://www.humed.com/heartcenters/newmircs/medicationsnew.shtml#lasix

    Heart Disease and Diuretics. WebMD. 2005-2010. Viewed 26, November 2010. http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/medicine-diuretics

    Lasix (Furosemide) Drug Description. RxList. Reviewed 15, November 2010. Viewed 26, November 2010. http://www.rxlist.com/lasix-drug.htm