About Huggy Pillows

The role of the huggy pillow

During open heart surgery, the patient's sternum (breastbone) is broken so the physician has open access to the heart. The sternum is wired back together to begin healing but is not strong for many weeks. Part of the recovery process for post surgery heart patients is coughing to keep the lungs clear of fluid and mucus. Coughing puts a great deal of pressure on the sternum, ribs, chest muscles. So patients hug the heart pillows to support the chest area while coughing. It also is used with a patient sneezes or laughs.

Patients also use the pillows at home for at least 4-5 weeks. The pillows are a buffer in a car between the patient and the seat belt or in the case of an accident, the air bag.

The unit at Chester County Hospital uses about 25 -30 pillows a month. The Cardiovascular unit is a 6 bed unit. The patients who receive them are open heart patients - bypass and valve replacement. The average age of the patients is 40s - 65ish and there are more men than women in the unit.

The nurses in the unit report the patients love their pillows and look to the pillows as a source of comfort and as a mood lifter. One can often see the recovering open heart patients in wheelchairs around the hospital (going to & from tests, etc.) and they all are clutching their heart pillows. Lots of patients keep their pillows as a keepsake after they are recovered. 

There is a company in Ohio that manufactures huggy pillows with the price ranging from $17-$20 each.  However, Medicare and health insurance will not reimburse for the cost of this valuable recovery tool.  This is why donations of huggy pillows are urgently needed to help cardiac recovery patients.

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