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Open Heart Surgery Recovery
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Open Heart Surgery Recovery

I had open heart surgery 10 weeks ago, and recovery seems to be going well except for being out of breath.  Nominal exertion results in shortness of breath, and it doesn't seem to be getting any better.  I walk two miles a day, and breath hard most of the time.  Previous to surgery I walked 5 to 10 miles a day (plus worked out on weight machines) and rarely experienced being out or even short of breath.  Specifically I'm looking for a way to regain my breath, for example, are there breathing exercises that might help?  Or generally speaking, is there anything I should or shouldn't be doing for proper recovery?  I am a 78 year old white male.
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239757_tn?1213813182
Frank,

Open heart surgery can really take it out of you. Its a big surgery, and sometimes the recovery can be more frustrating than the inital symtpoms.

At this point, overall, I would expect that you should start feeling better overall. However, some people lag behind. I would see your cardiologist or surgeon to have them look you over and make sure there isnt a problem with the lungs -- such as an effusion or any other active issues leading to your symptoms.  Otherwise, I would continue to pursue cardiac rehabilitation and slowly increase your activities.

good luck

12 Comments
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Avatar_n_tn
Hi,  I'm glad to hear your surgery went well. :-)  I had open heart as well.  I was wondering have you been using the 'coach' for breathing exercise?  

At any rate - I would call your surgeon or your cardio - I had problems with my breathing after about 12 weeks after my surgery and being a runner - I thought it was strange as I was going very slow and still could not breath.  Plus, it would come and go and if it was my lungs I thought it would be there all the time - but it wasn't.  Anyways,  the shortness of breath was coming from my hearts electrical system and my electrophysciologist cardiolgist (EP) doc fixed me right up.  Perhaps they can put you on a treadmill and see what's going on.  I would call them and expect to be seen and definently get it checked out.  I wouldn't think that's normal.  Especially where your in such good physical shape.  

Good Luck
Marilyn
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Avatar_n_tn
Is it ok if I ask the people on this forum a question unrelated to this post?  I hope so, if not, just ignore it.

My question is about an EKG.  Yesterday there was a new finding on my EKG.  In looking it up I find it's rare and am wondering if it is because of the lax when the EKG was done.

WHAT GOOD IS A 12 EKG if they put all the leads on your abdomen and chest?  Couldn't it mess up the results?  

It seems like pure laziness to me.  It is the 1st time I wasn't asked to put on a gown and I have been going to my cardio since '99 and every 6 months.

Thanks for any insights and forgive me if it was wrong of me to post here.
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Avatar_n_tn
Hello, awesome on the walking 2+ miles a day!  

To have open heart surgery at 79 years of age is great.  Hope you get an answer to your ? soon.

cristabelle
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Avatar_n_tn
Glad to hear your surgery went well. I had a bypass in Sept 2004 and had problems breathing. The doc put me on Combivent inhalers. I am now getting back to normal. I should have used the "coach" they gave me in the hospital more, but I did not and it took me longer to return to normal breathing.

I cannnot walk more than 100 steps due to Spinal Stenosis, PAD, and failed bypass which cannot be redone.

I would see your Cardio doc and have him check things out.
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Avatar_n_tn
I had open heart surgery twice in 11 months.  The first time I did have a lot of problems with breathing and exercising. However, that was due to a problem with how the valve was implanted.  After my second surgery, I did very well...no problems and just worked on gradually increasing activity tolerance etc.  It does take some time.  However, I was back to work in about two to three weeks.
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Avatar_n_tn

Hello,
I am a 52 year old white male. I had open heart surgery in 8/2005 it is now 3/2006. I had a quad bypass. Before my surgery I had little to NO BREATHING PROBLEMS, I had chest pain when I worked hard in the hot FL sun, who don't. I was told that I would die if I didn't get the bypass surgery right away. I was also told that I would not survive a heart attack, that my widomaker valve was not working, and my other veins in heart were 80% 60 % 70 % clogged.I was talked into the surgery. During surgery I woke up two times, two times, that is a horrable experiance,I don't think I will ever have surgery again due to that experience.
Now 7 months later I find out that I did have a heart attack (according to an EKG taken after after the operation) (and survived it, the liers) and I have the following problems since the surgery: I can't breath right, I can't finish a sentence without gasping for air, I have constant chest pain when I breath, I have what I call surgerical pain in areas that were cut, my heart races on & off up to 120 BPM while lieing down or resting with NO activity. My heart beat noise when I lay on my side at night is so loud in my head I can't sleep. I go most nights with very little sleep, as it keeps me awake & in pain. I also had a recent stress test & failed it, so they did another heart cath, and it showed one of my vein grafts is closed & not working. So with constant chest pain,problems breathing,heart rate racing to 120 while resting, and the rest I am much worse off for listening to the doctors. I never had any of those problems before my surgery, never.

When I tell my dr's they ALL BLOW IT OFF, and tell me that's normal. Well folks out there is that normal?? does anyone else have similar problems.

If your going to have open heart surgery like I did, you better check it out with several doctors 1st, I greatly regret it and would die before having another operation!!!

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Avatar_n_tn
oops, I had the EKG taken BEFORE the open heart surgery, not after...that's another thing my memory is bad as well,

sorry....
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Avatar_n_tn
Mo/Yr of birth: 10/32. My quadruple bypass was on Jan 6, 2005. In very good health. Smoked from age 18 till age 65. Quit once for 18 days and another time for 3 years.

Because of aFib (atrial fibrillation) shortly after the surgery and cardioversion not effective, I am on slow-acting Metoprolol 100mg daily, Rythmol (150mg x 2) for aFib, Coumadin-4mg to 5mg daily for INR 2-3, Lipitor 80gm, Enteric ASA 81gm. (I was on Amiodorone instead of Rythmol from July 1, 2005 till a month ago, but PFTs and CATScans indicated it was hurting my lungs, so I was switched back to Rythmol)

I understand that aFib is common after bypass surgery and that most patients return to NSR quite soon, or after a few months, following bypass surgery.

I had 3 episodes with restoration to NSR by IV in ER. I have had NO aFib episodes since July 1, 2005 and feel very well and healthy.

At this 16-months point, I and my doctor are weaning me off, first the Rythmol and then the Metroprolol. I am done with the Rythmol in 2 days and then I start gradually going off of the Metoprolol.

What is the likelyhood of returning to continuous NSR after 6 months? after 9 months? after 12 months? after my situation of 16 months? Are there any field studies in these areas?





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Avatar_n_tn
I had aortic valve replacement on December 15, 2005. On December 27th I was rushed back to the hospital, because I could not breath. They performed the second open heart surgery. The next night, the wires holding my sternum together after the surgery popped, so they had to go in again.  During my hospital stays, I repeatedly asked the doctors, specialists and therapists, why my breathing was so bad.  They said it would take time, because of the trauma to my body.  Well, now it is April 6th, and my one doctor put me on oxygen because I get so short of breath.  The only thing is that my oxygen level was adequate at the time.  He just did not know what else to do.  Talk about despair.  I wanted to start cardiac rehab but if you have shortness of breath, that is a waste.  Now they say because of the surgeries, it might of put my lungs over the edge.  So, who is going to fix this.  They look at me like I have a third eye on my forehead.  My GP says it is my heart doing this and my cardiologist says it is my lungs causing problems.  

I agree with bn1971 about being talked into the surgery.  I went to my GP on November 30th, saw the cardiologist on December 1st, and was operated on December 15th.  They told me if I did not have it done, I would die.  Well, this is no way to live when you can't stop and smell the roses, because you have no breath.  

I also have a lump on the right part of my chest and numbness, below the chestbone that feels like the wires that they used to hold the sternum together.  The surgeon says it's scar tissue.  Why does it hurt so bad and move at a touch.  Also, I pulled a 7 inch wire with a corkscrew end out of my stomach on February 20th.  The doctor lauged when I told him.  Said that happens all the time.  I have never felt so mistreated and abused by the medical field in all my life and to think that my insurance had to pay for this mistreatment.  Hopefully, I can get a second opinion and at least get some satisfaction or else I feel that my future is not so sunny!!!
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Avatar_n_tn
I have recently undergone a heart valve replacement via a less invasive heart surgery now almost 7 weeks ago. I also had a maze surgery done at the same time.

3 weeks ago my heart went into a Tachycardia rhythm and was very irregular. My cardiologist feared I had an infection due to the heart rhythm as one of my wounds from a drainage tube was not healing correctly and was a wide open gaping hole about 3cm in lenght and 1 cm in width and about 1-2 cm deep (you could still see my muscle) so they put me on 2 heavy duty doses of an IV drug (admitted me to the hospital) then sent me home on Lovaquin. After being on Lovaquin for 4 days my arrythmia stopped but my heart rate was still up between 90-110 (resting heart rate) now I have been off the Lovaquin for about 12-14 days now and as of 3 days ago I started have the irratic heart rate again (not A-Fib) but it causes me shortness of breath and makes it difficult for me to take my pulse accurately. I would say irregular it has been between 54-100 the last 3 days with an irregular beat.

First of all is this normal? What can I or my Dr. do about it. He at first thought it was infection (which I thought proved to be true when the Lovaquin took the arrythmia away) but now unless I have another infection I am stumped. I have more shortness of breath and irregular heart rhythms than prior to my surgery. It is very frustrating. It make it impossible for me to do the simplest of things like get a glass of water. If I do get a glass of water I have to lean on the counter or fridge while I fill up my glass and then I have sit and rest before I can drink it. Sad...but true...any advice or comments?
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