Uncle in ICU for 12 days after a heart attack and... - ICUsteps

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Uncle in ICU for 12 days after a heart attack and doesn't wake up


Hello everyone,

Quick summery: My dear uncle went through a heart attack, surgery and sedation multiple times in 12 days. He moves a lot but doesn't wake up.

We would be grateful to get your advice, hopefully someone here might have known a similar case.

My uncle just got back from a trip overseas with his wife, he had a heart attack right after landing. The crew has given him CPR and oxygen right away in the airplane (which should've been great luck to have) and he was evacuated to the hospital and then went through a surgery for Cardiac catheterization.

As of today he is in ICU for 12 days, he was sedated for a few days after he had the surgery but when they stopped sedating him he didn't wake up.

They say his heart should be working fine now (although not as before) and they took a CT scan of his head saying it looked ok.

He is not responding but he does move his limbs, hands and arms and head, he yawns a lot and coughs (silently because of the ventilator) while moving is whole upper body. he moves his head and opens his eyes sometimes but doesn't look at anyone or focuses. The nurse has pinched him today but he didn't respond.

A few days ago he had tried to pull the breathing tube as it probably bothers him (still unconscious) and the crew tied his hands to the bed, after that I think they've sedated him just so he will stop and relax.

after that he was without sedation for maybe two days and then he had fever, they said he had pneumonia, so they sedated him again and gave him antibiotics. fortunately, the fever went down since then.

last night he moved so much and was so restless that the crew sedated him again just for him to stop again.

The Chief doctor of the heart ICU said that the chances of him getting out of it and returning to himself again are very slim.

If anyone has an experience with someone that went through something similar and which moved a lot but didn't wake up for a while after it first began, please let us know how things turned for you and if you have any tips for us going through this hard time. we will greatly appreciate your advice.

Wishing everyone good health.


7 Replies

Although I didnt have a cardiac arrest, due to going into septic shock, my heart failed. My kidneys, heart & respiratory system failed in fact. I had flu, double pneumonia & sepsis. Sedated & intubated. After numerous infusions of antibiotics, I started to improve, only to come down with severe ARDS, I was proned three times, on full life support, my heart was paddled, on dialysis for 7 wks. in a coma for 2 months, hand pumped on occasions because they couldn’t get any oxygen into me. My family were warned that if I did wake up, which was unlikely, I might be brain damaged. It took me 11 days to wake up from sedation. To cut a long story, I defied the odds. 22 months later, pretty much back to normal.

Depending on your age & fitness, it can take between 10/14 days to recover from every day on ICU. I hope your uncle turns a corner soon.

in reply to Sepsur

Thank you for your words, I'm very happy you are doing well after all you've been through!

Your experience does give hope and encouragement. My uncle was smoking a lot (he just came back from the trip and said he'll stop as he'll get back) so his fitness wasn't the best but he is young (in his late 50's) so I'm optimistic, even though he is not waking up yet, I will update here later on. Many Thanks again for taking the time to write. wishing you a long and healthy life. God bless you.

Hi Roy!

My dad had a stroke, than he got pneumonia in the hospital. He was fighting against that for 30 days. Once there was no infection, the doctors decided to wake him up... but my dad was not responding at all. He wouldn't move, or anything. Doctors said he might have brain damage. After 3 weeks he started opening his eyes, but there was nothing there! He couldn't follow orders or look at us. Nothing! We were so worried! After almost FIVE weeks, he opened his eyes but totally different, he could look at us and started moving his limbs and head a bit. Since I live in Germany (and my family in Mexico) I had to come back when he was still sleeping.. and yesterday I could already "talkt" to him via WhatsApp!! (he can't talk because of the tracheostomy, but he was smiling and happy to se me). Sometimes they just need time to recover. My dad smoked 40 years, didn't eat well for 30 days and was fighting against a horrible lung infection. I see it like they are in a "save-energy-modus". Your uncle will wake up when his body and mind are ready for it. Remember.. almost 5 weeks needed my dad!! =D Miracles do exist!

in reply to titiday

Thank you very much for your words! very happy that your dad has made it! it's very encouraging!

A neurologist who examined my uncle today said he has some neurological damage as he doesn't move one hand as he does with the other. They are doing another head CT today, he already had one or two head CT's which showed that is head is ok. He is still loaded with sedatives and show very little response if at all but I'm still very optimistic since I know it will take time for the drugs to get out of his system and for him to get out of that "comma".

Thanks again, wishing you and your family a healthy long life!

Quick update, my uncle is still sedated, He had a very low Hemoglobin so they found out he had a bleeding as he got blood thinners as well, apparently from an ulcer, they gave him 4 blood doses. his Hemoglobin is back to normal and stable now without anymore blood dose.

His fever goes up and down, he doesn't have an infection, they think the part of the brain that regulates heat was damaged during the heart attack and lack of oxygen.

We hope they'll start to wake him up soon and that he will wake up normal.

he also gets anti-palpitation medicine since he is having them sometimes. especially when being waken up.

in reply to RoyZ

going through the same thing right now, my father is in the ICU, he’s 64 and he has some heart damage from a recent heart attack. he had internal bleeding but it stopped the second day he was admitted into the ICU which is good . his hemoglobin was at 5 now an 8.8 it’s been 6 days since he’s been in his medically induced coma. doesn’t listen to commands and when not sedated he is agitated and tries to take out the respirator. currently has damage to the liver from drinking in the past and now has a fever that has been going up and down the last day and a half . he’s alert to noises and wakes up from loud beeps from medicine .

Hello everyone, just wanted to update, MIRACLES CAN HAPPEN. as was written in the post above, my uncle (58) had the same issue of low hemoglobin (probably due to blood thinners he got after the heart attack but they stopped giving them and the bleeding stopped), he got 5(!) blood doses, he too was not responding and his fever went up and down as well, breathing rate was not stable, heart rate was not stable (cardiologist gave him a medicine for that) but he got stable! he was sedated for 6 weeks and then one day the breathing tube got out of his lungs half way so the nurse pulled it out, he was breathing by himself, so they put the breathing mask over his mouth/nose, after a few more days he woke up a little more, staring but not responding, then starting to respond sometimes, when told to look here and there, then he started to move his head and right hand a bit. a little bit more everyday! today he is about 2 and a half months after the heart attack and is fully speaking (first days was whispering, and today much clearer), moving his hands, head. he has some hallucinations/dreams that makes him talks nonsense, for the first days after he woke up he was 50% dreaming and doing irrational things like putting his hands in his mouth then rubbing them on the bed) but today in 80% of the time he is rational. after reading all over, it is expected to go away and he should get back to 100% rational soon (it takes about a month or two to get back). his long term memory is good, but short term memory is mostly not there but that is not an issue, his family will remind everything. we are so happy to have him back. he was just moved to a rehabilitation center where they do physical therapy etc', he has a pressure wound in his butt (level 4) so that's very painful for him (make sure your loved one has that special air mattress to reduce the risk, my uncle had it but still one wound created, it is not expensive if needed to buy), he still doesn't move his legs (just half an inch maybe when asked) but we are optimistic he'll get back to himself in a few months of rehabilitation. Thank god! miracles do happen, be alert for the care and never loose hope!

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