Mended Hearts Open Forum

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Sternum pain

  • 1.  Sternum pain

    Posted 09-21-2019 23:17
    Hello everyone,

    I am seven months post open heart surgery of a patch to my heart after being diagnosed with ASD primum. My heart rate is a bit high but controllable with meds and starting to get a little better with regular exercise. However, my sternum aches! I still don’t feel comfortable sleeping on my side and it just feels heavy in the middle of my chest (some days worse than others, but I don’t know why). Is this normal? Did anyone else feel this way? I welcome the opportunity to hear your experience...


  • 2.  RE: Sternum pain

    Posted 09-22-2019 10:57
    Hello Jill,
    Sternum pain is very normal. The sternum is mostly cartilage, not bone. It takes longer for this to heal than bone. Plus the arm exercises we do puts pressure on the sternum and the scar tissue that is forming. Be patient and keep at it, the pain gets milder as time goes on. I was a full year after my CABG before I could begin to sleep on my side and stomach. It does get better. ☺

    Richard Short
    Chapter 395

  • 3.  RE: Sternum pain

    Posted 09-22-2019 13:20
    Good Morning Jill,
    You're not alone in feeling this way. I'm four months post op and have these same issues. My Dr recently put me on a med to slow my heart rate. It has come down but still avgs around 80-85. He'd like for it to be 60-70. I'm still in cardiac rehab so that may help to improve it.
    My sternum was really hurting a few weeks ago. I was taken off the arm machines and arm exercises for two weeks to give it time to "calm down." During that time I limited my upper body activity and used an ice pack and Tylenol when needed. It's been feeling much better so I was put back on the arm machine this past week. It still aches but not nearly as sore. I posted a question on here last month and in someone's reply they said that this recovery is a marathon and not a sprint. Which is definitely something I needed to hear, I remind myself of this quite often. This group and everyone on here has been a lifesaver for me : )
    I know exactly what you mean when you say you feel heaviness in your chest. Every morning when I get out of bed it feels like my chest is going to fall right out of my body and hit the floor. If I hold my shoulders back it doesn't feel as heavy. This lasts for about 15 minutes after waking. I do still feel slight heaviness throughout the day. I'm not sure why it feels this way but I just wanted to let you know you're not alone.
    I'm a side sleeper so I still use a soft pillow to hold onto. I've noticed I sleep better this way.
    I hope this helps you, best of luck on your continued recovery : )

    michelle leverett
    Ridgecrest CA