I've joined the bypass queue.... - British Heart Fou...

British Heart Foundation

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I've joined the bypass queue....

seppoj profile image

Six months ago I thought I was a relatively fit person, going up Cadair Idris. The my breathing problems started and got rapidly worse. Now I'm on a cocktail of medicines, keeping the GTN spray always in the pocket and waiting for my turn in the bypass queue. Allegedly, it is six months long, I am not keeping my hopes high, though.

15 Replies
MichaelJH profile image
MichaelJHHeart Star

Hello and welcome to the forum!

After four months of tests it was decided I was my issues were too extensive and unstentable. Once referred for bypass surgery it was another ten months before I had surgery. This was pre CovID. I hope you get surgery in six months but don't hold your breath.

You will get plenty of advice here you only need to ask. Two early pieces : a) work on your core strength as you cannot use your arms for about 12 weeks to push up after surgery and b) get your teeth checked (no gum disease, decay or loose teeth). A friend has surgery refused on the day after the anesthesist did a quick check. This was four years ago and they had not been told about this but I believe it is routine at or before pre op.

I was also put on anti-anginals (Isosorbide Mononitrate and Diltazem are common ones) and never used GTN spray thereafter.

seppoj profile image
seppoj in reply to MichaelJH

Many thanks- I managed to attach my reply to brixcos message :( I need to push my GP/surgeon to give me more anti-anginals. I'd really love to do more walking and rambling on the hills!

Hi, funnily enough my partner noticed how out of breath I got last summer hill walking in Scotland. I was pretty fit and just thought it was due to not being used to hills... 6 months later I had a completely unexpected heart attack, followed by CABx2 in January.

Check how much exercise you can safely do now, but definitely keep as fit as you can in the meantime, lots of walking is good, and get in the habit of healthy eating if you're not already. I had a wait of a month in hospital (over xmas - dire!) as they wouldn't let me out, and it was difficult keeping positive with no visitors and. Covid raging all around. Keep busy and occupied, and exercise, is my best advice. I do hope you get an appointment soon x

seppoj profile image
seppoj in reply to Brixcos

Many thanks, very useful points! Dentist is a bit of a sore point as we have moved to a new area and haven't been able to register with a dentist. Must try harder from now on, then! :) I am now on low dose of Ranexa, it seems to help a bit. But, I can hardly walk for more than 100 metres before running out of breath! I am not giving up on walking, though- slowly does it....

It's well worth letting them know you would accept a short notice cancellation if it became available - sometimes less than 24 hours so keep a bag ready.

seppoj profile image
seppoj in reply to shopman

Thank you, that is an uplifting thought! Must pack phone chargers now :)

Michael's advice on dental care is very sensible. Not only for the reasons given but also because there's a well established link between gum disease and heart disease. Here's a link to an NHS article that underlines the connection,


Large artery heart disease (atherosclerosis) in most people is primarily caused by life style factors, but there are lots of people who arrive on this forum who are puzzled by this because as slim, active, non-smokers they believe that they're immune. The problem is there are a raft of life style issues, like exemplary dental hygiene, that don't fit with the cliche of the obese couch potato puffing away on two packs of cigarettes a day!

It's also important to realise that your bypass operation will do nothing to fix your underlying heart disease. Don't misunderstand me, it's an amazing procedure that will sweep away the symptoms of angina. But a bypass is more about giving you a second chance than delivering a permanent cure. The real work starts afterwards, with a combination of medication and life style changes.

Good luck!

fit4walks profile image
fit4walks in reply to Chappychap

I just have to say, that life style is not the only thing. I have a family history of heart disease and have always lived a healthy life style because of it. I had my cholesterol checked regularly and it was never even close to the danger zone. Nevertheless, I started having similar difficulties, getting out of breath when hill climbing by bike or on foot and when mentioned to the doctor, I was referred to all the tests imaginable. My heart looked fine on all of them, but, Not until they did an angiogram it became apparent that I had 5 blockages, of which 3 where 95-99% blocked. I did get a pre op appointment for 1 month later, but I went to A&E only 2 weeks after and had my op 6 days later. It is good advice to keep a bag ready, but when your GTN doesn’t do the trick anymore, get yourself to the hospital.Good luck, I will be thinking of you.


Chappychap profile image
Chappychap in reply to fit4walks

"I just have to say, that life style is not the only thing."

I never said it was. What I said was that for MOST people their atherosclerosis is PRIMARILY caused by life style, and that includes many people who regard themselves as relatively fit.

The reason this is so important, is that unless you can identify the life style issues that you personally might need to change, then you're relying solely on medication to prevent a reoccurrence, because sadly our atherosclerosis never goes away.

I can only speak for myself, but I'm hoping for many years of active life to come, and I don't want to rely just on medication to get me there!

seppoj profile image
seppoj in reply to Chappychap

I am hardly young or slim, but I am still astonished how quickly my condition is deteriorating! The symptoms started when I was exercising more than usual- i went from 10 minutes per kilometre walking pace to 20 minutes with 10 or more stops, all this within weeks.

Chappychap profile image
Chappychap in reply to seppoj

You know, so many people on this forum report exactly the same thing. It seems that you can have very severe levels of stenosisis, even beyond 90% blockage in some cases, with absolutely no symptoms. And then suddenly, wham, you hit a tipping point and quickly start to become more and more limited in your abilities.

The upside is that once you've recovered from your bypass you'll most likely feel totally free of these angina symptoms, that's an amazingly liberating feeling!

Good luck!

I had the same problem half way up Snowdon, that was after the triple BP. I think it was caused by the Oxygen or lack of it at such an altitude. I'm not as fit now but haven't had such a problem since.

Just to share our experience (this was pre-Covid)

My fiancé was put on the waiting list for a bypass on December 20th 2019 and had his surgery January 27th 2020.

He refused to be put on the cancellation appointment list, as the thought of having little notice really freaked him out. But the consultant did say he wouldn’t be waiting long as his condition had worsened so much and was unstable. (He’d been ill for nearly a year by this point.)

In regards to the dentist he was told to make an appointment for cleaning and check up, I made the appointment but it was due after he had his bypass and they couldn't fit him in before - the consultant decided it didn’t matter! (Tho I appreciate it’s better to have it all done before hand.

Hope you get a date soon.

seppoj profile image
seppoj in reply to Chickenlou

Wow, that was quick, op in five weeks!! I'm hoping to find a dentist soon-ish!

Hi I had a heart attack Dec 1st 2020. In hospital for 10 days . Dr's decided a bypass would be best for me. I was sent home to wait for op because of covid. I still haven't heard but interesting reading about the dentist as I have 3 loose teeth !! I better make an appointment .

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