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British Heart Foundation
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Post-heart bypass physio?

Hello all, my father had a triple heart bypass in July at the age of 85. At that age, recovery will obviously be a lengthy process. However, I’m not noticing any recovering, and if anything he’s deteriorating.

I’m obviously no doctor, but I can see he’s too unwell and/or lacks the confidence to walk more than a few steps. He also has a poor appetite. These two points may be related.

It seems strange there is no encouragement to perform exercises or physiotherapy after a heart bypass. I think such physio must be an option, but he’s not been given the information.

Does anyone have information or experience of post-bypass physio, please?

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Hello and welcome to the forum! Was your father offered any rehab? If not speak to your GP/cardio team about it. There are a couple of gentlemen near your father's age in my group. Also have a chat with the BHF nurses in the morning. Good luck.

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Based purely on my own experience, your father should have had some physio before he was discharged from hospital. He should have been walking, able to negotiate stairs and given breathing exercise to re-inflate his lungs. There is an expectation that the patient will be motivated enough to carry on these exercises on discharge. From shortly after discharge he should have been offered rehab (per comments from MichaelJH). If you think your father is not coping/going downhill, you should contact his GP. Bote that I am much younger than your father and I found recovering from a triple took quite a few months before I felt 'normal' again. As you have said already, at 85 your FAther's recovery is likely to be longer and slower.

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Thanks Steve, I believe he was given basic rehab in hospital and was walking slowly up and down the corridor. I think his recovery was hampered by the onset of anaemia, which is fairly common after doc surgery apparently, and the debilitating effects of that were shocking.

There is a local support group which starts a new course in January. It sounds a bit amateurish although I may be being disrespectful to the people involved. We’ll give that a go and see. As you say, it’ll be a slow recovery. Thanks again.

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Hi, has your father had any blood tests recently, just a thought because after I was discharged from the specialist hospital after a triple bypass I lost my appetite, was vomiting at times & didn’t want to walk. I was admitted to the local hospital urgently due to an electrolyte imbalance especially of potassium & magnesium. It might be worth asking his GP about a blood test. I did have physio after my bypass whilst I was in the heart hospital mainly just to get me mobile. I am now at the end of cardiac rehab. I had my bypass in April but it was delayed because of the electrolyte imbalance.

Jean

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Hi Jean, I didn’t mention (as my post was long enough :)) that he was re-admitted a few weeks after the operation with anaemia. He was in for two weeks and had a few transfusions. Before re-admission, he was in a very bad way, e.g. unable to even stand for a few seconds, but he’s relatively a whole let better now I guess.

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I'm surprised to read that your father has been given so little support. In common with previous replies, I'm receiving four significant elements of post operative support,

1. Before discharge from hospital I received physio support, indeed a sign off by the physio team that I could walk and tackle stairs was a necessary requirement for discharge.

2. The hospital organised an eight week "Cardiac Rehabilitation Programme" which includes physio and exercise at a local community centre. I believe this isn't a national programme, but it's standard in my county (Hampshire) and I understand many other areas as well.

3. Three weeks after discharge I had a blood tests and an appointment with my GP to review progress and adjust medication as required. This included an appointment with the practise nurse to monitor wound healing, stitches, and dressings. A second GP appointment and further blood tests were arranged for four weeks after that, and I believe an annual check up specific to heart issues will continue for life.

4. Six weeks after discharge I go back to the hospital for a follow up appointment with the medical team that performed the operation. I haven't had this yet, but I believe it will include an X Ray to evaluate how the sternum is healing, further tests, and an opportunity to discuss any technical issues with the relevant experts.

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The hospital that did my bypass wrote to both my GP practice re medication and wound review and to the local hospital about cardio rehab. I had to chase both up and believe neither would have done anything if I had not chased.

One purpose of the X-ray at the review is to check for fluid on the lungs. With the sternal wires the definition of the breastbone is far from clear. The other tests typically carried out are an ECG and echocardiogram.

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