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Avatar universal

memory loss after bypass surgery

I am a 70 year old male.  I had a quad bypass operation about
4 months ago.  I have no memory of the first 5-6 days after surgery and seem to be having trouble remembering events from much earlier in life. ( decades rather than years).

Typically, a friend will say 'remember when......., and even after prompting I will not be able to recall the event.
I don't know if I am forgeting more things as time goes by or am just being exposed to more things I have forgotten.

Since the operation I have had a month of heart rehab and am
now in a self admin exercise program and typicallly walk on a treadmill twice daily for 30 min@ 3.5 mph.  I have lost 35 pounds and fell much better and more capable physically.

Is my memory loss condition normal/typical for my age group with the heart bypass operations.
8 Responses
Avatar universal
Dear Kram5358,

Sorry to hear about the memory loss you have been experiencing following your bypass surgery. Approximately 3 to 6% of people undergoing bypass surgery may experience some type of adverse cerebral outcome which includes stroke, cognitive decline, seizures or memory loss. As people age the incidence of these adverse events increases following bypass surgery. Fortunately, many people do return to their baseline(pre-operative) level of cognitive function. One study showed that most patients who experienced cognitive decline following CABG returned to normal within 6 to 12 months.  However, they did remain at increased risk for further cognitive decline.  I would recommend continuing interact with your friends and participating in mind stimulating tasks. I would also recommend discussing your concerns with your doctor.  Hope this helps.

Thanks for your question,

Avatar universal
Having had open heart surgery (3 1/2 yrs ago) to close an ASD at age 52, I have had some similar symptoms (to what you describe) of mild cognitive/memory difficulties.  I am simply not as sharp as I used to be although I do function OK in everyday life as a university professional.  Additionally, I have occasional bouts of imbalance and dizziness that I did not have to this extent before the surgery. Neurological exam did not reveal anything particularly remarkable or new. I have heard several heart specialists (surgeons and cardiologists) suggest that some temporary detioration in cognitive function and memory are typical in recovering heart surgery patients and the situation improves over time.  At the same time, I hear more patient questions about a more troublesome long-term condition going largely unanswered.  There is a slowly growing suggestion of a sequela to being on the heart-lung machine known in the inner circle as "pump head." The idea is that some patients, while on the pump, have their brains showered with micro-emboli of oxygen which can potentially cause varying degrees of damage which doesn't readily dissipate.  In no way am I attempting to diagnose your condition as much as to acknowledge that your concern is valid and you are not alone.  The cardiac biomedical community is wonderful and probably saved my life (your's too) but there is a dearth of acknowledgement and information about some of the long term neurological effects of heart surgery such as you and I (and many others)are experiencing.
Avatar universal

I am 42 years old and had a triple by-pass October 27, 1999. (I have had 4 heart attacks since 1997.) I have memory loss too -- for the longest time I thought I simply had SFB <G>-- but have since concluded that it may be related to the by-pass. I have a lot of trouble concentrating -- this is very frustrating as I have recently gone back to college. I don't know if it will ever get any better...

Just wanted to share...

Avatar universal
A related discussion, pumphead was started.
Avatar universal
A related discussion, Causes of memory loss after heart surgery. was started.
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A related discussion, chest pain was started.
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