Open heart surgery experience & advice

I would like to hear from anyone who has undergone open heart surgery for valves or bypass. I am seeking to learn from your experience to develop a guide for people who will be going in for this surgery. I also want to tell NHS hospitals how the pre and post operative experience could be improved.

Here are some questions, but I welcome any comments you may want to make outside these.

When & where did the operation take place?

Was it on pump?

What was the information you were given before the operation?

What was useful? How could it have been improved?

What was the most useful advice?

How many days were you u hospital?

What information were you given before you left hospital?

What did you wish you had been told?

How many weeks/months before you felt well as or better than before the operation?

If you had any complications what were they?

How many rehabilitation classes did you attend? Did you continue to go to the community classes? How could the rehab programme be improved?

Are you happy that you had the operation? Would you recommend to a friend?

Many thanks

PS If you want to know my history it's only an 11 year battle so far and you can read it in my blog if you want to no compulsion, idonotwantabypass.wordpress...

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10 Replies

  • I had my Aortic valve replaced 4yrs ago tomorrow.Did not realise anything wrong until cracked ribs and went to hospital,told me I had a heart murmur.Went to see my own doctor who sent me to see a cardiologist,done e.c.g.nothing,then done heart scan and found the problem,said I would need it replaced within the next 3/5 years and it was 3yrs later.It wa s all explained to me had angiogram to make sure all arterys ok,very frightening experience,but knew it had to be done.I went into the Priory in Edgbaston,Birmingham to have the operation,spent 4 days in intensive care,then back to my room for the next 6days so in for 10days,all had gone well except when they went to remove he art it was stuck to,a piece of skin and they had to cut it and had a job to stop bleeding,but all ok in the end.I was then sent to local heart centre to do light exercise,but due to bad knees could only do walking round the room,so when time up I stopped going,but met a lot of lovely people and it was a good place to,go.I w ent for check up 6 weeks later all ok, 1yr later also,then have to go back next year which will be 5yrs.I now go to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.I feel re ally good now,did not realise how tired I was at the time until about 8/12 months afte r operation,they did not put titamiam valve in, so will have to have this replaced in the next 10 yrs( not looking forward to,that a t my age,I am now 67).

  • Thanks usher for taking the time, do not worry about 5 years on, so much can change. Take care.

  • I had a bypass 3 years ago. There are many individual factors. Younger people have less complications.

    I had a clot and heart attack on the second day after the operation and 4 stents implanted, otherwise I would have died. The operation lasted over 5 hours the heart and lungs were stopped.

    There is a long period of recovery for years afterwards. After 3 years I still feel unpleasant sensations from the iron wires attached to by breast bone and the cicatrix. The early recovery months are very stressful. I lost sleep and went on pills.

    This is a serious operation but when doctors tell you that you have to undergo it, otherwise you will die, you have no choice.

  • Thank you. I am sad to hear it is taking so LNG to get fully well.

    I think state of health before the operation is a bigger factor to recovery not just age.

    Many thanks for taking the time to reply & good luck.

  • I was sixty, in good health, had no complaints, learned about my multiple stenoses suddenly after angiography, because the cardiogram showed ischemia and cholesterol 8.5. Doctors said that only stenting would not be enough. That urgent bypass came as a shock to me. And in a year they decided me to have veloergometry and it was positive (I could not meet their requirements) and decided to make another angiography and saw that there was another blockage, though I did not feel any pain. Did not know when and why this happened, though I took regularly Plavix and Aspirin. So they decided to implant another stent. Stenting is dangerous procedure. Now, I feel as usual, burn about 250 calories daily on my home velo, walk every day and make 30 minutes morning gymnastics. For breakfast I have oats and nuts with yoghourt, fruit and tea, also first thing in the morning warm water with lemon juice. I also take Trifas diuretic in the morning because my mitral valve does not fully close and blood jet gets back. My blood pressure became normal, but the heart rate became rather low - about 50 beats/min. But I take Concor, which slows it. Tell me Heartsave what is your situation.

  • A summary - I was diagnosed at 47, when I should have had a bypass. But my doctor was a world specialist and managed to stent instead! In the following 10 years I had 3 more stents, a stroke followed by carotid surgery. In July 2013 I had a bypass & numerous complications. My wound reopened in Jan 2014 I had another operation and spent six weeks in hospital. I have a chronic infection that will take a further 2-6 months to clear, we hope. If you want a more detailed version to keep myself busy I started a blog

    : idonotwantabypass.wordpress...

  • I am sorry you have suffered so much. Hopefully, things will change to the better. I also was operated by one of the most renowned professors in Bulgaria, but got the clot in two days. I am very sensitive, sleep badly, had stressful job (school teacher) and life in my country is stressful, most pensioners are very poor, those still able work, I have never stopped working in school and at home as a freelancer - translator. I translate various documents in a very wide area, often urgent work for 3.5 euro per page, while in Western Europe payment usually starts from 15 euro per page. So, it is proven by medics - specialists that stress is a major factor. There is always the concern, if one will get enough revenue to pay the bills and have for food and medicines. With pension of 150 euro, I spend 50 euro each month for medication. If I do not work I shall have serious complications with health and everyday life.

  • I continue to admire the strength & determination of so many who cope with chronic illness. May you continue to have the strength you need.

  • My husband had a triple bi pass 3 years ago at The hampstead and he'd apparently had two heart attacks and the second he went to see GP who immediately sent him to the L&D (Monday evening) who kept him in. He went to the Hammersmith by ambulance from the L&D after 3 days and had an angiogram with a view to putting in a stent but not possible. He retuned to the L&D then back to the Hammersmith on Sunday night. Surgery at 8am on Monday and on the ICU the following day but his right lung would not inflate so had to be inflated on the Tuesday. I collected him on Saturday when he was discharged. For about 4/5 weeks it was a terrifying experience. Panic attacks and believing he would die if he slept. Hardly any sleep and was prescribed temazepam. No home visit from a GP and a nurse called twice to observe dressings. He had severe pains in legs where attempts were made to take the replacement arteries And ribs. It was difficult for 3/4 weeks to take deep breaths. My husband attended the aftercare programme but sadly has not changed his lifestyle. He overeats on the wrong foods, does not exercise at all. I cannot prove it but believe he is smoking and he is very overweight. He was 57 when he had the surgery and a heavy cigar smoker but never drinks alcohol. He is on Statins BP and related medication. He is borderline diabetic type 2 but is in complete denial. He believes he has a new heart and can carry on regardless. I somehow cannot enjoy his attitude - I am waiting for him to collapse and die. I know this is morbid but my dad had a 5 bi pass at age 68 and he died of an aneurism age 76 - the only difference between my dad and husband is my dad did not smoke :(

  • Dear ivlyndy we cannot stop other people from using the self destruct button, I have a hard job striving to be healthy myself, but I try.

    If he still goes to see a cardiologist have a word with them or the GP. Try emotional blackmail especially through kids. If you are cooking change the food at home. Smoking quite frankly they stink, you just cannot miss it it's in the clothes.

    It's easy for me to say but in the end it is his choice all you can do is lay the facts and what you feel out in the open to him.

    Best of luck and many thanks.

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