British Heart Foundation
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Scared 23 year old's dad facing open heart surgery

My dad (60) is going for a valve replacement and bypass tomorrow and I'm really scared. I'm not sure how to support my mum or how my dad will be after his surgery. Will he be independent and able to move about? How long will it take for a full recovery? Is this a common surgery for people of my dad's age? Feel really overwhelmed so any advice or comments on similar experiences welcome! Thanks

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Your emotional reaction is quite normal and I would not patronise you by saying don't worry. I'm just a bit older than your dad with kids your age who were similarly concerned. What I tried to tell them was that the surgery you describe is common place and has been perfected over the last few decades. In fact its termed a routine operation.Your Dad should be sitting up in the ward within a couple of days. I was in for 5 days and just two weeks after surgery , mobile and managing only ocassional moderate pain. The recovery and supported rehabilitation will normally be about 12 weeks in total. Your degree of recovery will be determined by the condition of your heart - if some damage has been done then surgery cannot reverse this but CBG and valve replacement can literally give your dad a new lease of life. My valve replacement gives me near normal life expectancy. So talk to people, particularly your mum and of course your Dad's cardiologist. And use this forum to field your questions and concerns - there's a wealth of personal experience out there to help and support you and your family

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Thank you so much Ian, this was really comforting to read. How have you felt since your operation health wise? And if you don't mind me asking, did you get a mechanical or tissue valve? My dad is leaning towards mechanical.

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Hi Ocmc - glad to help. These last two weeks have found me absolutely exhausted by the simplest of domestic routine so recovery is slow but tangeable. I'm now building on my initial target of 4 trips a day upstairs (yes, really) with daily 10 minute walks - slow but steady progress. Your Dad will find it will get worse before it gets much better. Just keep the faith. I decided against the reliance on my half-arsed GP surgery to keep me alive by getting my warfarin levels correct - too little a stroke, too much, a bleed. So I opted for a tissue valve with no associated med other than aspirin and a life probably 12 - 15 years before another surgery - it was also my surgeons recommendation which counted a lot for me. I can see the appeal of a mechanical valve for life but then there's the ticking and the rat poison. It's a decision your Dad should take in consultation with his surgeon. I'm sure the surgery will go just fine - I was focused on the recovery as I was playing the major part in that. Good luck!

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I'm glad to see you are doing well, if slow and steady...I'm still waiting and finding it hard in the heat!

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I, I underwent quadruple bypass three years ago, within a month I was back to walking, cycling and ballroom dancing.

Lately I,v had a cardioplasty to unblock and stent further blockages. That was a month ago and I,m back to normal ( whatever normal means) and planning a cruise in the autumn.

Onward and upward.

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Wow! I had my CABGs in 1997 and it took me months to recover. You guys on here seem to recover much, much faster.

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How do you go with your travel insurence?.some of the quotes I have had is ridiculous. One stent.

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Well that's truly remarkable Eccleshillian. I assume your multiple bypass involved a full sternotomy where all rehab medical guidelines recommend light but regular exercise for 6 weeks whilst the wired bone fuses and no strenuous exercise including cycling until week 12. We would all love to speed our recovery so maybe here's an opportunity to share your secret? Youth? Diet? Physical fitness? Look forward to hearing your advice.

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Wow, I am hoping that I can do as well. Still waiting for my op. I am constantly amazed at how well everyone seems to do after surgery, it gives people such a boost to read the positive posts.

From an ex- Eccleshillian.. (Bradford?)

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I’m actually the same age as your Dad and will be having similar surgery once I go on the waiting list. It’s the wait that’s the worst! I’m equally scared but I’m playing it down so my girls won’t be too worried - in fact I might have played it down a bit too much haha.

What you and I have to remember is even babies have this op if it’s for the same thing ie a congenital valve problem that I was likely born with. It’s the shock of it that’s almost worst. Your Dad needs your support so maybe help him after the op and help him achieve some new goals with his new lease of life.

I’ll be interested to hear how it goes? What hospital?

X

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Thank you, it seems to be a fairly common operation for people of yours and my dad's age. He had been on the waiting list for 6 months and this just got spring on us a week ago so a bit of a shock which we are all still trying to process! But probably better so it gave us less time to think about it I suppose. All the best with yours

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Do you know why he’s having it done? Mine was a total shock to me in November and then to be told it was severe. It was found quite unexpectedly and has nothing to do with lifestyle or even age other than it being a faulty valve that gets to this stage around my age , 59 at the time. I’m sure your Fad went through a rollercoaster of emotions when it was found, maybe he’s been monitored over many years and you just didn’t know. It does seem to be about a 6 month waiting list though. Does he have any symptoms such as shortness of breath that you’ve noticed?

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Hi there, as Ian says, a wealth of experience and knowledge here to help. It is a big op, but relatively normal these days. Yes he will need time to recover but he also needs to be encouraged to help himself. Walk, get up and out and about, fantastic for the heart and for his lungs too.

Wishing him and you all the best

Mark

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Thank you Mark. My dad likes his independence, I'm a bit worried about smothering him with too much help post operation. The cardiologist also advised us it's likely he'll feel depressed following his surgery and to expect this. Did you want much help from family following your operation? I see from your profile you had a bypass also?

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I was a stubborn old goat. I knew best and spurned most offers until rehab six weeks post op. Even after that I would be saying I'm OK nothing to see here, far too insular and suffered badly with depression. I did listen more to my children and really should have sought their counsel more. My youngest was 24 at the time. They were the ones doing the online research, keeping up with how things worked and found the BHF for me. Now I'm a regular here, a few of us are 'heart stars' welcoming people, offering advice, our experience and encouragement to others. From I think a couple of hundred strong to now 3000 members.

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I am 59 and had my AVR op last November. I was in hospital for a week and back at work after 12 weeks. I think my husband explained it quite well when he said that when he saw me just after my op I looked like death warmed up, but the next day I looked almost back to normal.

Once your dad gets home make sure he takes his painkillers as he won’t want to move around if he’s in pain and he needs to keep moving. Make sure he has a cushion to hand as he needs to hug this to his chest if he coughs or sneezes - he’ll only forget to use it once, it hurts!!!

We don’t have children so just had my husband and cats to look after me 😜, but had lovely friends who popped in to see me occasionally, but ask friends to check before calling round because he will have good and bad days and sometimes won’t want to see anyone. As sleeping is hard to start with he may need to take naps during the day, he also might like a bolster cushion or one of the v-shaped cushions to get comfy at night, lying down flat can be painful in the early days.

Don’t ‘mother’ him, he needs to do things for himself but not overdo it ie no lifting things, but getting out for a walk is good exercise, but make sure he starts slowly and gradually increases the distance.

After surgery his tastebuds, memory and concentration may be shot, but the do gradually come back, although I have found that I no longer like some of the foods I used to love (mainly certain biscuits!).

Hopefully you’ll be surprised how quickly he recovers and is soon back to his normal self.

I wish him all the best with his op and recovery.

Wendy

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Thanks so much for this Wendy!

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Had a valve replacement four months ago. I am quite a bit older than your dad. Takes a while for recovery.

I wouldn't call it common surgery but the doctors do it a lot and are very skilled.

He will be able to walk about but will feel weak

for a while.

If he is offered cardiac rehab tell him to go. It helps a lot.

Not being allowed to drive may bother him but it is not forever.

I walk 4 to 5 miles a day with my dog now and cardiac gym twice a week.

There is a lot of support on this forum

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Nanny72, how long was it you were in ICU post op? Dad through the surgery today but been told he is in critical condition for 48 hours

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I was in ICU for eight days which was longer than usual but apparently I wouldn't show any signs of waking.

This is unusual but my husband was told it could be fourteen days.

When I came out of ICU I was home within 3 days.

I know you are worried and anxious, give your mum a cuddle. My husband said all he wanted was a hug. My daughter and eldest granddaughter were his support.

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Hi, i had a multiple (5) bypass 3 months ago at almost the same age as your Dad. A lot of fantastic advice in the answers you have received here but I would say just be there for him. Personally I was amazed at how fragile I felt and even a wee bit tearful at times and that's just not me. I found it was literally an overnight transformation and I now walk and even jog every day. The surgical teams that do this are fantastic, and send you home with plenty of pain relief, keep on top of this along with the Sena tabs.

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Thank you oberon57. My dad is now through his operation but the surgeon said he will remain critical for 48hours. Did you have the same experience? How long was it before you were able to sit up and breathe again for yourself etc?

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I think that is normal. You seem to go from recovery to intensive care then high dependency. The time in each department depends on your progress as everyone is different. I was breathing for myself and sat up in intensive care. If you have a specific question just ask the doctors or the nursing staff they are more than happy to keep you in the picture. They understand that the family are concerned.

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I hope your dad comes through OK. Keep us posted.

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Thanks jimmyq. Dads operation now over - the surgeons said it went well although it lasted 7 hours. They said he will remain in critical condition for 48 hours now and they will update us then. Guess all that can be done is wait!

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They will have him up and walking as soon as possible. Best thing for him. I was up on the third day, pushing one of those drip hanger things up and down the hospital corridors. The next day one of the nurses walked me up and down the stairs. The nurse was there to make sure I was OK. They were brilliant.

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Thanks jimmyq, that's great to hear. The nurse got in touch with us today to say he is responding well so far and he attempted to send us a text (didn't make any sense as he's on morphine!) So great news so far

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Great stuff! Really pleased for you all.

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2 months on, and I hope he is feeling so much better. We all wish him well, and is now getting fit.

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Hi Ocmc, I had a triple bypass and was not allowed out of hospital after an elective angiogram, this was the day before my sons 20th birthday (he's at uni too) and 10 days before my daughters 29th birthday and mothers day in between. I was gutted that my sons birthday was with me in hospital but I explained to him what was going to happen, he also went on this site to check things. I think he was scared I was not going to pull through, but as everyone has said, these are fairly routine things nowadays and the NHS do fantastic things. The biggest thing for me was he emotional toll, crying over nothing; dreaming that I was not going to make it. I am sure that the fact that you are on this site shows what a great support you will be for your Dad and Mum and other family members. Hugs are good, but not too tight in the early days. Wishing your Dad and your family all the best x

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Thanks so much wiltsgirl. Dad made it through his operation today but we've been told he will remain in critical condition in ICU for 48 hours, although this seems to be the standard procedure post heart operation! All that can be done is wait for now I think x

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I’m sure he will be up and about im no time, I was out of bed the day after my op. It’s going to be a journey but one which you will all get through. Take care x

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I’ve had that surgery and I’m younger I had it via keyhole and I was back to normal within days. I’m felt more tired for a longer while tho.

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I am a bit older than your dad and awaiting a quadruple bypass. The one positive thing about it is that we both have ended up on the cardiology radar. My father never got the second chance. I would anticipate unless there are other underlying medical conditions your father should make a fairly speedy recovery. My surgeon surprised me by the speedy timescales he felt were doable which included returning to p/t work in six weeks - I work in IT (sensor measurement and analysis) in the medical arena.

Hope it all goes well today.

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Thanks MichaelJH. Surgery went well today although they advised us he will remain in critical condition for 48 hours

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Hi Ocmc just popped in to say "Hope all goes well" and do take care of yourself. Dad might need to lean on You for a time. Keep in touch.

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Thanks so much, the support on here has been just wonderful and the advice has been tremendous from everyone. Brilliant community

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Ocmc 1st well done for being so supportive and finding this forum which has from the 21 comments offered you advise and reassurance from people who have been there, got the tee shirt. I had AVR replacement last August, I was 57yrs, total shock, didn’t know I had a problem of any kind, mine was critical Stenosis and was kept in hospital ( birth defect)

It is scary, for the person and their family, I couldn’t get my head around it,

Open heart surgery s**t . Today this surgery is comman place, it’s amazing the technology and expertise these surgeons have and how it continues to advance year in year out. I was amazed how calm I was on the day. I woke up and felt great, no pain just very thirsty, I recovered so well I went straight on to a ward and walk to the bathroom the next day, home on the 5th day.

How you can help and support your Dad: Buy him a V pillow and a body pillow they became my best friends as for the first 2 weeks I slept propped up, if his feet swell put an old duvet or blanket under the bottom of The mattress to raise his feet. He won’t be able to use his arms, so if he can practise now getting up from chairs, bed, lol etc. I was fitted with a thoracic

Vest which I wore for 6 weeks this protected my sternum, not all hospital issue them. Sleep is essential, I found it hard after hospital routine, my GP gave me sleeping tablets, only used for 2wks and sleep pattern returned and had the best sleep which helped my mood and recovery.

Depression was the hardest for me, so if he gets a bit overwhelmed or snappy it’s not you 😂 talk to him, read the books, let him know you have an understanding, don’t smother him, just be there. By week 2: I was out walking ( never on his own ) 15 mins then increased it every other day.

It’s important he doesn’t use his arms or lift anything heavy, every week you improve, our bodies are amazing. By 8 wks he will start cardio rehab. Week 12 I went back to work. I’ve just turned 9 months post op, life’s back to normal, I’ve had a few issues nothing serious, it’s helped that I’ve got a fab GP who has been there for me. Had my 1st appointment with cardiologist Tuesday I’m doing fine and off some of the meds.

So to sum up your Dad will be fine, because he has a family and you who obviously love him very much and will give him support. You and your Dad

Can use this brilliant site, with amazing people who will support you both anytime, it’s been a godsend to me.

So wishing you all the very best, and keep us updated.

Kaz💖❤️💕

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Thank you so much for this Kaz, so reassuring to read and your advice is brilliant. The support from this fantastic community has been overwhelming!

Dad made it through the operation today although the surgeon phoned us after (7 hour surgery!) to say he would remain critical for 48 hours. Was this similar for yourself? We won't be able to visit him until he's out of ICU so just a waiting game now to see how he responds I guess x

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Update: Dad made it through his operation today, lasted 7 hours due to some complications with the bypass. Surgeons phoned after to say it went well however he will be in critical condition for 48 hours so we will receive more news then. Is this a normal timeframe? What are people's experiences with recovery? Think all I can do at this stage is wait and see how he responds in ICU.

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So glad it’s all over, and that it went well. My operation also took 7 hrs,

I was woken up the following day on ICU about 10 hrs after the op, my Husband was told that I could be on ICU for upto 48hrs, but I recovered quickly, skipped high dependency and went on to a normal Cardio ward, I woke at 7am on the ward at 11am. I told my family I didn’t want them to see me on ICU saw them 48hrs after the op.

You will get too see him really soon, it will be emotional 😭 😂

By this time next next week he should be home.

Sending you all good wishes and speedy recovery for your Dad.

Hope to hear from for an update.

Take care Kaz❤️💖💕

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Hi, I went to surgery at 1pm on the Friday afternoon and got to ICU at 8pm, my partner was told the surgery was 'uneventful' I wasn't woken up until 9am the following day, Saturday. Which sounds scary but I am glad they did. The worse things were 1. When the ventilation tube was removed, felt sick 2. When the drains were taken out (the morphine pump was a godsend). The delays were because they were due to take the arteries from my left forearm and all the test beforehand suggested this would work. However, this didn't they were too narrow so I have a lovely scar from wrist to elbow too. They used ones from my leg and chest. As they used my chest arteries my chest has been quite sore and in the early days stretching to get anything was painful (your dad will be pleased he doesn't wear a bra!). Make sure your dad has a 'cough cushion' to hold against his chest (not tummy which is what I kept on doing), so that he can clear his lungs from the 'gunk'. I still hold my chest when I sneeze. I am surprise you cannot visit in ICU, I had visitors and it gave me such an uplift. I am sure he will continue to improve, hours to hours. Take care x

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Update #2: Dad responding well so far. Nurses hoping to remove some of the drains today but say he is in and out of sleep due to the morphine etc. He even attempted to send us a text which is great news! Seems to be coming round. Thank you all so much for your brilliant support and advice so far

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Ocmc, thank you for sharing your good news. Drain removal means repairs are sound and things are healing so all moving in the right direction. I'm sure he'll be on the ward before long and reasonably conformable. The recovery begins - best of good luck

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How are this going this Sunday evening? Hope he is doing well and on the ward - maybe even a short walk with an intravenous drip?

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Hi MichaelJH, thanks for your message. Not moved to the ward yet but will hopefully be moving over tomorrow or Tuesday. He's been up for short walks and most of the drains removed, they're trying to move him off the morphine now!

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Hi all, dad recovering well so far. He got discharged from hospital 5 days ago. Still sore and easily tired out but getting there! He's very independent and determined to recover so he's making sure to walk each day and gradually increase the distance etc although he is finding it frustrating at times. Thanks again for all the comments, the support has been brilliant.

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Quad bypass over three years ago, stent fitted three months ago. I,m back doing all the things I did before. Was back dancing within three months, walking and cycling as well.

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