My husband had a cardiac arrest 5 weeks ago and he... - Headway

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My husband had a cardiac arrest 5 weeks ago and he has hypoxia brain damage


Hi everyone, my husband had a cardiac arrest 5 weeks ago at home and I had to do cpr on him why my 15 year old daughter phoned the ambulance. He was rushed to hospital where he had a Angiogram and found he needs a quadruple heart bypass but he's not well enough for that yet. He went into icu for 2 weeks where he was in a coma on a ventilator but he improved enough to have a tracheostomy which he only had for two days and it was removed because he was able to breathe on his own. He then got moved to itu but wasn't there very long when he got moved to a cardiology ward still in a coma I might add this was two weeks ago now he woke from his coma the next day after the move and said his first word and since then he has come on great and is now speaking in sentences he remembers his dob his address and his kids names he still gets my name confused at times and his short term memory has been affected and his motor skills are not working yet but he's waiting to go to rehab which I'm hoping will help him greatly. Has anyone else experienced what I'm going through because sometimes I'm finding it very tough. Xx

28 Replies

I'm new to the forum so I hope I've posted in the right place x

Hi curly sue

You are very welcome and this forum is for anyone with any brain injury or anyone caring for them or related to them.

We will always do the best we can to help.

This is really tough for you and your girls and the best thing you can do is get as much rest as you can while your hubby is in hospital.

Phone the Headway helpline. Their details are in a pinned post on this page.

Headway have quite a few leaflets which you might find useful.

Sorry I can't be of more help.



Hi Curly Sue,

I haven't had experience in cardiac arrest but have in brain injury (Bi) and you are in the right place for really good advice and warm help from others who have experienced what you are going through. It does sound like your husband is improving and will continue to get well but as random has suggested give the headway line a call and have a chat with them.

I truly hope he makes a fast recovery and you have him back soon. God Bless XX N

Hi welcome

For the brain injury your in the right place, the cognitive problems are a hall mark of one of the many issue you husband will face

Stay strong we are all here for support. And any advice we can offer you have a long road.

All the best


in reply to lew-ann

Mam plz help me

Hi Sue and welcome. I've no direct experience apart from my son's father-in-law having a triple bypass 10 years ago. He was very poorly for a few weeks ; having said that, I was pretty shocked at how soon he returned to work.

He's been fine ever since and still working at 60+.

It's a fairly routine procedure nowadays ...............although not for the patient or their loved ones !! But it sounds like your man is making good progress & I hope he'll soon be back home where he can rest and fully recover.

Please let us know how he progresses won't you ? Cat xx

Hi Sue

This is very similar to my partners situation. Apparently everyone recovers at a different rate, and to varying levels. I expect you've been told that they can't predict the full outcome at this stage, and for now it is a case of trying to stay positive. If you want to pm me for a chat, please feel free..

Take care


Hi, Am in a quite similar situation. My husband had a heart attack in July. I had to do CPR on him whilst waiting for th ambulance. Coma for 12 days in ICU, Had trache but removed after 3 days, eating ok after tht. Was very very confused when he woke up. Mobility was bad, couldnt walk etc. Currently in brain injury rehab since Sept. He is learning how to walk again. I can see progress. Its going to be slow & a long road so just got to b patient. Yes short term memory too but I can see improvements too. 2 weeks ago he still wouldnt remember what he had for breakfast when I asked him few hours after but now he can remember so that is huge. Just remember there'll b good days bad days. Dont be despair. Try to stay strong, theres hope. I still cry now & then but I think thats normal & ok.

in reply to Yoda8888

Hi, sorry for not replying earlier. How is your husband doing? Did your husband lose his eye sight at all? My husband can see things sometimes and then other times he can't see at all and he's very confused and has hallucinations is this normal? He walked for the first time a couple of days ago which was amazing to see. Still waiting for a rehab bed but shouldn't be long now. Sue xx

in reply to Curly-sue

My husband has hypoxia brain injury too but eye sight ok. He does get confused. Sometimes more confused than normal sometimes less. Yes hallucinations when he woke up from his coma(that was in July) but now not. Its good that your husband is now walking. My H has just started to walk after about 4 months with someone at his side just in case and like you said it's so amazing to see. He has what is called ataxia so when he shakes it kind of hinder his mobility. He is on a new medication about 3 weeks ago and it looks like it's helping. Was in rehab in Sept and they do amazing stuff over there. 4 months ago he was not mobile but now I can so much progress. It's just his mind that is taking some time. He is still confused and at times paranoid for eg thinking that the nursing staff hasn't given him his medication when he just had them an hour ago. He also think he is well and able to go home although it's still a long way to go. His brain injury is making him believe all these. I find it so hard at times to convince him otherwise and explain things to him. Sometimes I end up in tears and just walk away as I don't want to be tearful in front of him and I get one of the staff to explain to him. It's hard I'm not going to lie but have to remind myself that although things seem to be going forward there are times when it goes backwards again. Like the phrase 2 steps forward, 1 step back? or did I say it wrong. His social communication has also changed. He talks without a filter so sometimes it can be offensive but the Speech and Language Therapist is using strategies that is helping him. He used to be a very quiet person but now he talks non stop something that I am still getting used to but I've been told that it will get better so I am clinging to the hope.

in reply to Yoda8888

Hi Yeah my husband was a very shy quite man but now he's offensive and load and when I wheeled him down the corridor in the hospital yesterday he was saying to everyone hello I'm mental but he's clearly not. I'm worried about his eye sight thou because one min he can see and the next he can't but I do believe he's playing us a bit because he can see more for the nursing staff then he's telling us and he answers the nurses questions but when we ask him he says he doesn't remember does that happen with short term memory? Can it come and go randomly? Because I always thought if you have short term memory loss it's all the time not intermittently like that. My husband is the same he thinks he's well enough to go home and I can't reason with him either it's extremely hard and I end up walking away in tears too so your not alone their xx

in reply to Curly-sue

The memory thing initially he wouldn't remember what he just eaten, what he did in the morning or the day before but it seems to be getting better now but it does seem to come and go. Like for example he will remember the nursing staff names but the next day he will be calling them all Maria. One day he will remember but another day he might not. He is able to tell me now when I visit him. 3 weeks ago he would not remember of events the day before. When he was in the hospital for about 2 months I was there for him every day, help to bed bath him, fed him etc etc, it was like about 11 hours a day but he would not remember any of the events but he was sweet to say "I cannot remember you visit me everyday but I am sure you come everyday". Now he does remember my visits but some other things he does still get confused. He will tell me things like his GP called the other day and said he is fine and that he can go home and he will say he is not taking any medication anymore when an hr later you can see him taking his medication fr the nurse so you will think that it is so obvious and he should be aware but the brain is just tricking him to believe in things that is not true. His social communication is bad. Like I said before he used to be so quiet but now he just talks non stop and can be rude and sarcastic. We agreed that I will keep reminding him when it is inappropriate. He will apologise but 10 mins later he will forget and he will start again. Sigh. But I have been told by the Speech and Language Therapist to keep reminding him. To do it in a nice way and not shouting at him but sometimes I get so frustrated and ends up in like an argument with him. I have to keep reminding myself to be more patient with him as it is not his fault.

in reply to Yoda8888

I know exactly where your coming from with the arguing thing I've got no patients either and then I feel guilty because I know he can't help it. He is improving every day but his confusion and eye problems get him down. Does your husband know he's confused? My husband knows when he's being confused and he knows when he's seeing things that are not real too x

in reply to Curly-sue

It all depends on what. Sometimes he will say "oh... I cant remember & I'm prob confused" but sometimes with other things like medication or his health he will insist he's well & he thinks he will be going bck to work soon. My prob now also he seems tired a lot & finds it hard to get up. Maybe it's the weather making it worst. I agree w him a time tht he will get up so when he doesn't I said we had agreed beforehand so I'll say something like ok let's give it another 5 or 10 mins & lucky this is working. It's really hard work I won't lie.

Thank you everyone for your advice and kind words. My husband had his first cup of tea yesterday bless him but he's not been allowed to eat yet because he's waiting for a review from the salt team. He had a peg fitted last week but hopefully won't need it for long. His emotions are all over the place at the moment and he cries because he can't remember stuff and he can't remember ppl visiting but I'm sure he will soon xx

in reply to Curly-sue

All the emotional upheaval is so upsetting & understandably so. But it's all quite 'normal' after what your man has suffered.

That cup of tea is such a good sign ! He's safe now, and I hope he'll continue improving to the point where his op can go ahead and he can start thinking of rehab.

And the memory issues will improve with time. I still have no recollection of my first 6 weeks in hospital and my short-term memory is impaired but manageable.

It's looking positive Sue. Best wishes for your husband's continued progress. xx

Hi everyone sorry I've not been on for a while been very hectic now I'm back at work. John is eating now but only puree which he hates. He walked for the first time yesterday which was amazing to see, he's come a long way in the 8 weeks since this happened. Just a quick question thou will his eye sight come back? His sight has been effected and it comes and goes. Also he seams ever so confused and has hallucinations is this normal and does it get better in time? Sue

Hi Sue,

Thats totally normal my partner was exactly the same, hallucinations were a major part for around a month or so, and he was totally blind for the first two weeks after waking from his Coma, his eyesight went into an intermittent phase, sometimes only seeing black and white, or seeing things that weren't there or not even seeing me, when i was right in front of him.

The doctors said after a year the eyesight can correct itself.

9 months later his eyesight is fine, so there is HOPE for your partner. Just remember still early days.

Hi Sue, my partner 39yrs old also suffered a Cardiac Arrest in January of this year...they tried CPR for 55mins and in this time we believe he was without oxygen or very little to the brain. He was kept alive by life support in the beginning and the prognosis seemed dark, the doctors don't give much away and if they do, it is usually very disheartening.

I was told my partner would have brain damage but to which extent they couldn't say or would stay in a vegetive state and not awake from induced Coma, Luckily it took him around a week and a half to wake up. When he awoke he didn't know who I was, nor did he make sense, verbally or mentally. All very scary to see some you love go through this. Within eight weeks he started to feed himself, speak and make sense of his surroundings, and eventually walk.

I never gave up HOPE even though I was falling apart. I had to be strong for him and tell him. NO matter what it would be OK!!!. With that, he became stronger and nearly 9 months later is back to around 85%.

Currently his memory isn't great, a lot of repeating myself and post it notes around for daily reminders, lack of sleep makes him very unstable in balance and general confusion so I tend to make sure he gets enough sleep otherwise the following day can prove tricky. His personality is back around 95% unfortunately he's just not as energetic as he used to be, and lacks a little empathy but apparently still early days!

No matter what, don't give up HOPE if you are going though a similar situation. The mind and body is a powerful thing! Just keep praying for healing and give them as much of your strength, as you possibly can. Aftercare is slightly tricky, I had to leave my job and it took forever to find a good NHS Neurotherapist, don't forget you may also need some therapy after this traumatic event.

Good luck and stay strong! Sounds like he's doing very well :-)


Thank you amanda it's so nice to talk to someone who knows exactly what your going through. My husband is improving every day but his eye sight has been badly effected which is not helping his recovery but he's now top of the list for rehab so should be next week and then we can get on with getting him home xx

Good luck with the Rehab, just to mention my partner was blind for the first week or so, then his eyesight went into an intermittent phase, sometimes only seeing black and white, or seeing things that weren't there or not even seeing me, when i was right in front of him. The doctors said after a year the eyesight can correct itself.

9 months later his eyesight is fine, so there is HOPE for your partner. Just remember still early days.

Hi amanda, John hasn't gone to rehab yet because he's had a few seizures but he's back on the mend again thank god. Aww that's encouraging to know that your husband can see well again I hope and pray that happens with John it seams to be improving since he had the seizures xx

in reply to Curly-sue

John went to rehab today so he's now in the right place not that he agrees he was very angry today but I know that's because it's a new environment and new nurses it's all a bit scary for him xx

my heart goes out to you, as i remember those days so well. He seems to be progressing ahead of expectation though (although that won't feel much comfort at the moment as theres still so far to go).

Read the post titled : Hypoxia after Cardiac Arrest ... as its a really encouraging story 9 months down the line. I myself am 6 months in with my husband.

I have a Chronic Hypoxic Brain Injury. While in the hospital I was overdosed with Dilaudid and dead for 15 minutes, RR under 2, no pulse, oxygen stats under 20%. I have Anterograde Organic Amnesia, Epilepsy, and Neurocognitive Deficiencies now also. In all my research the one thing that it boiled down to which would have aided in my recovery and perhaps reduced the magnitude of damage, would have been hyperbaric chamber oxygen therapy. Unfortunately as it was the hospital's fault and had I been on oxygen saturation and heart monitors it would have gone down a lot differently, they released me as soon as they could, gave my family no warning or indication that there could be future issues, and I went without treatment for nearly 3 years. My Naturopatchic Doctor now says the hyperbaric chamber would have slowed down the damage if not reversed it. Treat the injury, not the symptoms. He said you can even buy a used one for use at home for about $4,000. He suggests now it would prohibit further damage, as I am continually diagnosed with further medical conditions, the epilepsy is progressing, etc., The injury happened in April 2010. My life is upside down.

Also, as the person with the brain injury it took years of therapy to accept that I am where am I. I can't undo it so I have to learn to function as I am. Once I did that my life started having a better quality to it as I wasn't chasing the idea that if I did it before I can do it again. One of my Psychiatric Doctors was a resident and used me as the subject of her dissertation to get her final medical degree. We had 2 hours together twice a week for 6 months (at no cost to me). She took me through the 5 stages of grief to mourn the woman that died. We had a mock funeral. The anger is gone, I have acceptance and I grieved the person that was lost.

From a medical standpoint, FIGHT! Fight and advocate for him until you think you can't go on and then fight some more. Don't ask, demand. Google, Google, Google. Don't take what they are telling you to be the golden rule. I've met multiple doctors that I have to educate on my medical conditions. Just because it says Doctor doesn't mean they are experienced with what you've got on your hands. Get a referral to a Neurologist ASAP. This is not a subject for your Primary Care Physician or Cardiologist from a hypoxic injury stance.

From the emotional standpoint, seriously... Look at the five stages of grief. Right them down.. list where you are at in each right now. Grieve the loss of the person he was, and every so often when you are struggling pull that piece of paper out, review it and add to it to understand where you are with each stage now. Down the road, you will then be able to help him have acceptance for the circumstances by helping him do the same. It truly works. I have a friend with a back injury. She wasn't dealing with it six years after the fact. She has an erector set in her back. I took her through grieving the loss of her old back and accepting the one she has. Miracle for her too. She accepts she has limitations now rather than wishing she could do what she used to and being pissed that she can't, so she spends her time discovering ways to do things she can enjoy and bring her happiness. I've found this approach works for about anything. Took my Mom through it so she has an easier time of it now also.

Know that, you are yet to meet the worst of it. He may become, angry, short tempered, lash out at you. Understand he can't even begin to help it. He'll wish he could. I also have PTSD triggered by needles (a needle in my IV line was the vehicle that put the Dilaudid in my system), medical equipment, medical staff uniforms, etc.) This particular Hypoxic injury evolves over time. I wish you the best.

Thank you for this post. I'm 6 months in with my husband after SCA at home. We have a long road, I know, but there is hope.

thats amazing

Not cardiac arrest, but coma and the repercussions. I found my husband on the floor with a fixed stare, rapid shallow breaths, he was hypoxic (low oxygen) and hypothermic (temp was in the 80s), his BP and pulse were elevated and he was in full shock and at deaths door...once in E.R. we found out he was also dehydrated, his body was shutting down and he was in full blown DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis, for non-medical...his blood sugar was so high (1100) that his blood PH was acidic)....he was in a coma for 5 days not even responsive to pain, then over the course of 3 days he was taken off the tube feed and vent, then followed instructions to wiggle his fingers and toes, then began to talk again...very emotional many bursts of tears...(we had separated 2 months prior...long story)...he apparently recalls thinking he was in hell cus he could feel touch, but couldnt see, hear or move...then one day he could. I was so thankful he was back. He needed a lift to transfer, then was a 2 person assist, now he walks alone. He was moved to a nursing home this week for rehab. He voiced that he hears his own thoughts slowly, and that reading and writing takes more concentration. He also forgets that people have visitted and has had bouts of confusion....everything I have read says this can be normal....but if it lasts longer than 3 months it is more likely permanent.....did I mention im 33 and hes only 37? yes I feel you hun.

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