Skip to content
Post-Open Heart Surgery - What Type of Pain Is Expected?
avatar
j12345 posted:
Is the recovery experience post-open-heart surgery different for men than women? It took me 3 months because of infection, and bouts of crying for no reason at all, constipation, fatigue, you name it!

I understand open heart surgery has come a long way since I had it, (1996, this is 2013) but, in what way? Do men go through the same type of normal reactions, i.e., depression, longer recovery time v.s. shorter recovery?? I haven't kept up with the latest techniques, but how much different is open heart surgery done today, compared to 1996?

Are the symptoms of depression, fatigue, crying, and rehabilitation different and better today? Do they still really saw your chest open? I am curious because heart disease runs in the family history and two siblings in their early 60's are going to have bypass operations. One is a quad. What is it to expect today, compared to what I as a female underwent in 1996?

Do men recover faster, the same emotionally, as women. Lot of questions here, but I'm really scared for by siblings.
Reply
 
avatar
billh99 responded:
I think that there are way too many variables to say how anyone is going to react.

From here and other sites I see that it is not uncommon for men or women to have depression. In fact it might even be for common for men.

But a lot depends on person and history. My guess is that people have a sudden event that leads up to the bypass, such as a heart attack.

In my case I had blockages that caused shortness of breath on heavy work and fatigue. No angina or heart attack. And other than heavy work I was not limited in activities. And I had 5 months between diagnoses and CABG to work through it.

I did not have any depression.

Also I was fairly fit and only a little above idea weight. And I kept active. I was a male at 66 and recovered fairly quickly. But I saw others in rehab that where not fit to start with and they struggled more.

Also I think that age has something to do with the depression. At older age it is not as surprising and less concern with [a style="cursor: pointer; color: rgb(0, 102, 153);" onclick="LoginCreatePost(this,'heart-disease-exchange','3'); return false;" class="template-reply-post" id="exchange-post-enabled_A8"> having young children to raise.

And yes they still saw your chest open. And that is the hardest part of recovery. The basic procedure is the same, but there have been many many improvements in details and techniques.
 
avatar
WHill03330 responded:
j12345, I had quadruple CABG preformed in December of 2010 and I was laid up for three months, during which the sternal wires broke. This hindered my recovery time drasticly. In December 2012 I had surgery to replace the sternal wires. Howeve, this did not work so well. The wires have all broke yet again and am now talking to a new Doctor who will cut me open for a third time, but will use the new Talon sternal closure system. He informed me this closure system is better than wires, and reduces total overall recovery time. You may want to consult your CardioThorasic surgen about the possibility of using it to reduce your time. And yes men suffer depression, shortness of breath, rehab is different due to individual need, and various lengths of recovery time.
I wish you much luck in your
 
avatar
nutman111 responded:
Yes they stll cut your chest open. Mine was done 02/15/2013. I had some soreness but really no pain. going bac to work in may. I had a knee replacement done in aug 2012 and if I had the 2 to do over I would pick the heart surgery, the knee was 10 times worse
I had no depression or any odd symtoms. the worst thing was if i had to cough or snees. That hurt
 
avatar
goldgirl55 responded:
I had a 4 way bypass in 2002 female at the time I was 54 Y.O.
I did have depression for about 3 weeks, was in and out of the hospital in 3 days. Never took anything for pain , either in the hospital or when I went home. Was tired , but still walked 30 minutes a day . Had a very good surgeon, and yes they cut your chest open although you can barely see my scar. The worst part for me was the respirator scared of that but got me off quickly, Used the radial artery in my arm, along with the mammary artery. With the right surgeon its a piece of cake.
Would rather have open hear surgery then a tooth pulled. lol
 
avatar
RobPotter responded:
I understand that I'm not typical, but I had a heart attack a Wednesday night about five years ago. It wasn't diagnosed until Thursday morning, at which point I was hospitalized. On Friday they did an angiogram and determined CABG was in order. Monday morning they performed a quintuple CABG, and I went home Friday afternoon. I needed a week to recover, then returned to work the following Monday (being driven by someone else, naturally; I have a desk job).

I had essentially no pain after leaving the hospital, and the only ill effects were that for the next month or so I seemed to often need a sweater to keep warm, and food didn't taste very good. Obviously things went very smoothly in my case.
 
avatar
Jeffraggs replied to nutman111's response:
My heart surgery was May 2011, valve replacement, I was 61 yrs old. I had the same experience as nutman111, At first I was extremely weak but I felt slightly stronger everyday. No depression. Coughing and sneezing was uncomfortable, but they give you a small pillow to hold against chest for this and it works quite well.
Good news ! Cedar-Sinai is advertising valve replacement thru the femoral artery, they operate on Monday and you walk out Tuesday. This is huge because most of the recovery is from your chest being cut open.
 
avatar
GrandmaGinger responded:
I can give you an idea from the spouse's viewpoint. My husband had a double bypass 7 years ago. At that time, yes, they cut his chest cavity and closed it with staples. He had a lot of pain during the healing process which he managed with advil after leaving the hospital. I think everyone's experience here differs with their pain tolerance.

He returned to work part time about 2 months after surgery and was full time shortly after that. Return to normal was about a year later, but I mean to a normal, healthy-type status, including running and light sports, yard work, etc. He struggled with some depression but I made every effort to stay positive and he got through the "blues" pretty quickly.

Cardiac rehab was a confidence-builder for both of us because we were both afraid to push the limits on what he could do and rehab established those limits for us.
 
avatar
Ggran1 replied to GrandmaGinger's response:
I had my surgery 8/10/2010. I am female 73 years. I had aortic valve replaced and a ring around the mitra valve and a by pass on a small artery in back of the heart. I did not need pain meds. And the pain you have is from the sternum being sawed open and wired shut . They remove them and the drains before leaving the hospital. I was to be in hospital 4 days but developed Atrial fibrillation and stayed 1day longer. I was in pretty good shape before surgery not overweight and walked as soon as they said I could . Had cardiac rehab.for many weeks. I had to be hospitalized in October 2010 for A fib so my rehab was prolonged . I then went back to the gym to do my exercise. I can't work as hard at exercise as I did before my heart valve wore out. But I am 75 and am active in my life besides exercising. I volunteer and cook and do my housework. My biggest complaint is the scar. The way it was sutured and because I have some keloiding in spots. I tan easily so I do have some melanine in my skin. It is uncomfortable . But my doctor and medical center in Hershey gave me top notch treatment.
 
avatar
dencil1 replied to WHill03330's response:
you better find a new doctor. the same happened to me 5 years ago.opened me up 3 days later removed the sternum.put muscle
flaps from my chest. plastic surgeon did it. took muscles from chest to cover the heart.was in icu for 40 days lost 30 pounds.now i am 79 years old healthy as a horse.you do not need a sternum so you better do some research.
 
avatar
cazeephyr replied to Jeffraggs's response:
I had my mitral valve repaired in April 2012. Yes they cut my
chest open, because my surgeon like to inspect the whole heart to see if their was any other problem. My life was saved. It depends on the surgeon how they want to do the surgery.
I didn't have depression, but it took me awhile to accept that I
had to have the surgery
 
avatar
Nannylady replied to cazeephyr's response:
Had aortia valve replacement 06/03. Little pain first 2 days. Went back to work in 2 months. My problem was memory loss. I could not remember what words to use during conversations. Still having some memories problems, but getting much better. Thought I was in early stage Alzheimer. Read an article by the editor of Scientific America who had OHS. Loss of memories due to being on pump during surgery. Article called, Pump head. Felt so much better, begin to work on puzzles and various brain games. Wear my scar as a honor badge. By the way I am a female.


Featuring Experts

James Beckerman, MD, FACC, is a cardiologist at the Providence St. Vincent Heart Clinic in Portland, OR. He graduated summa cum laude from Harvard Col...More

Helpful Tips

Mediterranean DietGuest Expert
The Mediterranean diet has long been recognized as a booster of heart health. It is linked to lower risks of heart disease, stroke, ... More
Was this Helpful?
11 of 12 found this helpful

Expert Blog

The Heart Beat - James Beckerman, MD, FACC

Dr. James Beckerman shares how small, livable lifestyle changes can have a real impact on your risk of heart attack and stroke...Read More

Related News

There was an error with this newsfeed

Related Drug Reviews

  • Drug Name User Reviews

Report Problems With Your Medications to the FDA

FDAYou are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

For more information, visit the Duke Health General and Consultative Heart Care Center