From stent to surgery: You may have... - British Heart Fou...

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From stent to surgery

Samanthauk profile image

You may have seen my previous post but to recap, mum had a heart attack on Wednesday morning. She had a couple of stents put in to a blockage and went for another angiogram today.

Unfortunately there is a calcium and fat buildup which is not suitable for stenting. She has been told she will have to have heart surgery. This is all I know at the moment. Mum is very shocked and upset.

Does anyone have any advice?

Mum is 69 and otherwise healthy although she has been a smoker for years, right up to the heart attack. She hasn't smoked since Wednesday as she has been in the hospital but I'm hoping she won't smoke again.

Thanks x

40 Replies

Hello Samanthauk

Sorry to read your post, if she as to have bypass it sounds daunting but it’s ok I had Aortic valve replaced and bypass 4 years ago age 68, your Mum will be looking into a scary place lots of us have been there it’s a major operation but one that is done lots of times per day, and it’s not as scary as our imagination makes out.

Once she as found out if that’s what is happening ask as many questions regarding the surgery as you can think of and someone will be along to answer you.

My first thought was how could my body let me down it had never done before! It does take a while to get your head round what is going on.

Let us know how things progress, give your Mum my best wishes and you try not to worry, my youngest son who was 40! Found it really hard he was so worried I spent so much time reassuring him, that I was going to be ok.


Samanthauk profile image
Samanthauk in reply to 080311

Thanks Pauline, that's really reassuring. I can imagine how your son felt, I'm a bit of a wreck at the moment. It's worse because I can't see her and can't speak to anyone.

She was told this morning that stents can be placed but that given her relatively young age and relatively good health an operation will be the best option for her. She agreed to the op.

There will be an MDT meeting on Wednesday, they will let her know the outcome and the final decision is hers. She will hopefully be home tomorrow.

It's a big shock as she had no issues and then all of this all came out of nowhere.

I just found out that mums brother had a triple bypass last June and he is doing great now, he said if he had to do it again he would so that's reassuring to know.

I have a list of questions to ask for when I do manage to speak to someone, which hopefully will be today but I know they are very busy.

I'm worried about what happens when she comes home - what to do if she feels unwell, I'm going to be on edge the whole time 😔

I will try and get mum to join the forum when she's home and feeling upto it.

080311 profile image
080311 in reply to Samanthauk

Joining the forum is a great idea we are a happy band of Hearties 😂 and will always be here for her to talk to. Worrying is normal, one thing I would say is be prepared for her to be a bit emotional after the op. You have to have time for your brain to catch up with what has happened to your body, it sort of thinking what the H... as gone on here😂 she will have been on a bypass machine so it’s a bit of a shock. Recovery will take a while for your sternum to heal 8-10 weeks like any broken bone. There will be a list of does and don’ts but you will get a list. Or ask there are plenty of us who have walked that road.

Let us know if we can help you


Samanthauk profile image
Samanthauk in reply to 080311

Thanks Pauline, everyone seems lovely and I'm sure it will be helpful for her 😊

Hi sorry to hear about your mum, I am 69 and I had a triple bypass end of March this year, I also had a stent but like your mum smoked all my life, so my LAD was all gummed up.

Your mum will be fine, and the cardiac surgeons do a great job, and there are loads of people on here that will always help

VickiMB profile image
VickiMB in reply to Baz51

Hi Baz, hope you are well. my husband (51) had HA last nov and stent fitted to the right, but his LAD is diffusely diseased. The MDT went against Heart bypass surgery and to treat with meds , he has started to have angina upon rest so I am worried sick that it’s to do with the LAD. Cardiologist has already said it’s impossible to stent as the whole length has plaque build up. Do you mind me asking how you found out you had the LAD blockage and did the surgeon suggest bypass straight away?

Baz51 profile image
Baz51 in reply to VickiMB

Hi Vicki

When I had the HA, they took me straight in, and the cardiac surgeon said they will put a stent in, but they then found the LAD was in a bad way, then they told me the best way for future issues was to have a bypass, in which they removed the right hand leg vessel to use for repairs

I would have another chat with Cardiology, or maybe ask for further tests like an echo

Hope everything goes well for your hubby

6 years ago I had stents after heart attack, but had damaged my mitral valve. A few months later I had open heart surgery for repairing the mitral valve. That proved unsuccessful and a year later it was redone by a different team who replaced the mitral valve and repaired a deteriorated tricuspid valve. That op was doubling daunting but successful. Since then I have been fitted with a pacemaker, so I have been through the hoops so to speak. 3 years since that op, I am fine - aged 66.

I learnt the hard way the difference between bad and good surgeons, but ended up wit a team of Ferrari mechanics.

To cheer you mum up, if she has confidence in her team of doctors she can trust them to do a good job.

Samanthauk profile image
Samanthauk in reply to LHDLondon

Oh goodness, you've been through it! Thanks so much, glad you're now doing well x

LHDLondon profile image
LHDLondon in reply to Samanthauk

Take heart, literally. A bypass is slightly different but your mum can make a full recovery. My stepbrother had a 5 way bypass 6 years ago. He took some time to recover and he is still the only person I know of to have had one, but he is still going.

Good luck.

The thing about a bypass operation is that it re-sets the clock. Your mum will have an uncomfortable few weeks following the operation, but following that she should be totally free from the effects of angina.

However, even though she's free from angina symptoms she won't be free from her underlying heart disease. Unfortunately there's no cure for that.

But if she can stay off cigarettes and generally tidy up her lifestyle then the outlook is actually pretty good that she'll enjoy many more years of healthy life. But if she drifts back to being a smoker then her arteries will be degraded again, and potentially very quickly.

After one bypass operation her future options start to get whittled down very quickly. The surgeons have already used the best replacement artery that the body can furnish, so the odds of a second operation being successful (even if the surgeons are willing to recommend it for a smoker) are consequently reduced.

Your mum's standing at a fork in the road, so much rests on her ability to remain a non-smoker.

Good luck!

Thank you - will explain the importance of not smoking to mum. I think she will join the forum herself over the weekend, I think it will be really helpful to hear this from people who have been through it x

Hello SamanthaUK

I can't offer any insight into bypass surgery, but completely agree with what Chappychap has said about smoking. I had a heart attack/cardiac arrest in December 2018 and had 1 stent fitted. I was a lifelong smoker up to that point, tried many, many times to give up and failed. When I came around in ICU one of the first things they did was slap a nicotine patch on my arm. I talked to a number of the medical staff, who all offered advice on life style changes, but all of them said that by far the most important change I could make would be to stop smoking. It's now 20 months since I had my last cigarette, and I actually found to not too difficult to smoke after trying so many times. I think it was a case of "Did I just do that to myself due to smoking? Well that was dumb, won't do that again!" Hopefully your mum will see it in a similar light and become a non-smoker.

Thanks, and well done with quitting! Hopefully mum will be able to stay off the ciggies - glad you are well now x

MichaelJH profile image
MichaelJHHeart Star

You have had some good replies already. The only thing I would add is that I have already stressed the importance of not smoking after stents. However it is even more important after a bypass. A friend's brother resumed smoking after a bypass and did not survive a year. A former colleague's father is doing well in his nineties over forty years post bypass. The basic rules are healthy diet, exercise, take prescribed medication and NO SMOKING!

As a footnote after over 50 years of Type I diabetes my legs were deemed unsuitable for donor blood vessels. This may happen to your mum after decades of smoking so they may then use a mammary and/or veins from the arms depending how many bypasses are needed. Have they indicated how many bypasses are needed?

Samanthauk profile image
Samanthauk in reply to MichaelJH

Goodness, that's awful. I really hope that mum will now quit - she really doesn't have much of a choice now. Will warn her about the veins. Dr thinks that it will be a double bypass x

Hi Samantha

I had a Heart Attack and Cardiac Arrest in march this year. I had a stent fitted.

I had no previous Cardiac problems and was active,had a good healthy diet and was not overweight. My downfall was smoking.

Whilst unconscious in ITU the Dr started me on nicotine patches. I continued with these after discharge and it's now 6 months without a ciggie. I feel so much better and I know I can not smoke again as maybe another Heart Attack and I won't be so lucky next time. It is fear of another HA that takes away any craving for a ciggie for me. I hope Mum will give it a try. Good luck to you all in the tough days ahead. Beyah x

Samanthauk profile image
Samanthauk in reply to Beyah

Thank you so much and well done on quitting! Glad youre now doing well x

Wow... So sorry to hear this. Not the news you wanted. But. They know how to treat heart conditions. So. Stay positive. Easier said than done,I know, my thoughts are with you... wishing you the very best... keep the faith...

Samanthauk profile image
Samanthauk in reply to StDogs

Thank you x

I so feel for you. And your mother will be feeling sad that she is putting you through it. I have wonderful, loving children and I have hated putting them through it. Make sure you take care of yourself and find some support while your mother is in surgery. Love 💓 to both of you.

Samanthauk profile image
Samanthauk in reply to Denva

Thank you, glad to know that you're doing well x

Samanthauk ask to speak to a cardiac nurse. They are a great source of information and some very caring people. Another source is the BHF Heart Helpline on 0300 330 3311. You can speak to a specialist nurse there as well.

All this is scary and exhausting. Do take care of yourself. Stay strong and positive.

Samanthauk profile image
Samanthauk in reply to Jaycey

Thank you x


I'm sorry to hear about all that is happening to you and your Mum. My own experiences are just a couple of stents being inserted. Others have posted about the effects of the operations, but I'd like to mention that, although significant, for me the biggest change was in my mind. I didn't smoke, but did drink. I just stopped. I knew it wasn't going to help me. I do hope your Mum can do that with smoking.

I was suddenly catapulted into a different state, it was a one way ticket too; no way back. Even after 2 years, there are moments when it all depresses me but they are now far fewer. Some people seem to sail through all this, but most I talk to admit to having issues.

I was used to how my body felt and reacted to things I did; I'd had 70 years after all. Now things were different and odd niggles, pains, feelings etc took on a new significance. Had my stents moved, were they still working etc. I had to relearn a lot; what to ignore, what should trigger a call to the doctor; when to call BHF help line (absolutely invaluable); should I use that GTN spray. But for me, it being awake at 2-3 am with my mind racing following what ifs.

Your Mum will need support, someone who will listen. If that is you, in your turn, you may well wish to talk, and moan, to someone else. It's natural, its allowed, don't feel guilty. It's just part of the healing process for you both. Diet and exercise are changes likely to be necessary, but don't let your Mum overdo things by doing too much too soon.

Good luck to you both and to the rest of your family


Samanthauk profile image
Samanthauk in reply to Henry20

Thank you so much, really glad you are doing well. There's 3 of us at home so mum will be doing nothing at all if we can help it!

Henry20 profile image
Henry20 in reply to Samanthauk

I'm so glad that you aren't alone; that will help all of you a lot.

Remember people with heart issues do need to take exercise. Perhaps you might enquire about cardiac rehabilitation exercises and classes? I found them very useful, reminding me that I should have been taking more exercise than I had grown accustomed to over the previous 30-40 years! Now I join in a class on Zoom 2-3 times a week. It's run by an instructor who is cardiac aware. I wouldn't go near anyone who had not had training to deal with heart patients.

I'm sure your Mum is in good hands


Sorry to hear about your mum. It is always a big shock because it is big surgery. What I would say is that this surgery takes place millions of times a year and is generally very safe and recovery good.

Will be a tough 3 months after but will potentially give your mum another 20 years of good life.

Sounds like she has great family and that is a blessing! Good luck I hope all goes well, I’m 5 weeks after surgery and getting stronger and better every day x

Samanthauk profile image
Samanthauk in reply to Telboi

Thank you - so glad to hear you are doing well x

Sorry to hear about your Mum,

This forum is the best thing so hopefully we will all be here for her following her surgery .

It means a lot to know that others have had surgery / stents etc and doing well .

Thinking about you at a really worrying time but feel sure she’ll be very well looked after by the heart specialists x

Please let us know how she gets on sending lots of positive thoughts to your Mum and her family x

Thanks so much, hoping mum will be home today x

Hi, yes it is a shock. But this is everyday stuff to heart specialists. It sounds like a bypass is the right thing for her. My 36 year old son got me through such a horrible time and always remained calm....even when he saw me when in afib with a heart rate of 190 beats per minute. Best to get it done now when hospitals are relatively clear of the virus. Good luck xxx

Samanthauk profile image
Samanthauk in reply to Tessie28

Thanks so much, glad you came through your procedure OK x

Ask the hospital to give her nicotine patches. They will---and tell her well done so far.

Samanthauk profile image
Samanthauk in reply to Qualipop

Thank you - she has been given nicotine patches whilst she was kin and they will send her home with some too. Not sure if Gp will continue to prescribe?

Beyah profile image
Beyah in reply to Samanthauk

Hi Samantha.

My GP was happy to prescribe Nicotine Patches and also Nicotine Inhalator. I have only just stopped using the patches and I have been supported all the way by my GP and practice nurse.

It's hasn't always been easy but I want to do everything I can not to put my family through another scare like the one 6 months ago.

Good luck and make sure to take care of yourself as well.

Beyah xx

Qualipop profile image
Qualipop in reply to Samanthauk

Your GP can book her in with your local smoking cessation clinic and if they do right, they will come to the house to see her as she won't be able to go there. I had a lovely lady who came for as long as necessary to prescribe patches, show me samples of other things I could use and help her find the best way for her. I think I would ask the GP to set it up before her operation although the hospital should also request it.

Thanks all. Looks like mum is being discharged today. They said it will probably be a matter of weeks not months until the op, they think she will do well on medication until then. Dr thinks it will be a double bypass.

The surgeons will meet on Wednesday and let her know the outcome, then she will go in to see the cardiologist and have a pre-op assessment.

Very glad she's coming home but obviously worried about what's to come

Hi Samanthauk.

It all seems scary now but having a husband who had a quad bypass nearly 2 years ago now, I can assure you it was the best thing that happened to him!!

Bypass surgery is so routine now so really nothing for you and your mum to be worrying too much about (easy to say that now we've been through it all!!).

The best thing I ever did was to join this forum. Hubby didn't know I had but I really needed questions answered. The lovely people on this forum are superb and knowledgable and most have been through heart surgery.

I remember showing hubby some of the posts on this forum which really put his mind at rest both before and after the bypass.

Let your mum see some of these posts as I'm sure she'll be reassured.

Well done mum for kicking the ciggy habit. You've done really well and your mended heart in a few weeks will thank you for it.

Best wishes to you and your mum xxxx

Evening Samantha, you have come to the right place for help and support. Your Mum is in great hands. She has a daughter that has come onto this Forum to seek help which shows just how good hands she is in. There is not much more to say that others have not already said. I had my HA on 2nd August this year. I had 1 stent in my LAD. I have 2 more diseased arteries. My cardiologist said a bypass was something he was considering and an ICD too. I have an MRI on friday to see how my heart is doing. Hoping to get more info then. Please keep us posted, and be reassured that the support and information on here is amazing. Please encourage your Mum to join.I came here just to tell the world what was happening to me. Can't stay off this forum now!I am also an ex smoker and am off them now. I found chewing gum helped giving up.

Best advice I have had so far is to Be Kind to yourself. It's a very difficult time. So remember that being kind to yourself is the best thing you can do.

Hope this helps

Jim x

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