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Anxiety after open heart surgery

  • 1.  Anxiety after open heart surgery

    Posted 03-16-2020 11:17
    Has anyone else noticed increased anxiety after open heart surgery? Here's the reason for my question: I went for an MRI on Saturday for a non-heart related issue. I've had several MRIs in the past and have never had an issue with claustrophobia. However, this weekend I had to have them take me out of the machine 5 minutes after they got started. When I got in the machine I suddenly started having a panic attack, which I've never had before, and couldn't finish the test. Now I'll have to reschedule the MRI after I've spoken to my doctor and gotten him to write a script for some Valium or Xanax that I can use to help me relax before I go back in the machine again.

    It occurred to me afterwards that since my open heart surgery last year I've been dealing with a lot more anxiety in general. I've always been a very upbeat and positive person and most things don't worry me too much but since the surgery I worry a lot more than I used to. Is it just me or have others noticed this after their surgery? Any suggestions on how to deal with this? Any input would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks, everyone!

    Brett in Sarasota, FL


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    Brett Temple
    Project Manager
    Sarasota FL
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  • 2.  RE: Anxiety after open heart surgery

    Posted 03-17-2020 13:13
    Hi Brett, 

    My anxiety came out of no where after my OHS.  I freaked out about so many things, I felt like a small child most times of the day or night.  

    Once I found this Mended Heart Forum, I found that the OHS had a lot to do with post surgical anxiety and every day it now gets better with continued posting and reading posts here at the Forum.  

    Some of us even consider that the OHS may have caused a PTSD type of anxiety that was not present before the surgery.  I am sure that other members will have info for you and will post soon

    Mary H





  • 3.  RE: Anxiety after open heart surgery

    Posted 03-17-2020 20:15
    Hi Brett,
    I wanted to let you know you're not alone. I too developed  anxieties, fears and mild depression after my surgery (I'm ten months out now). I've always been a pretty laid back, happy person so I couldn't really understand why I was feeling this way. I didn't want to talk with family or friends about how I was feeling. One of the nurses at rehab suggested I see a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist. I've already had about ten sessions with her and I can tell you it has helped me a lot!!! I hope this helps you.
    Best of luck to you on your continued recover, especially with this virus going around. (It has given me a whole new anxiety LOL!)
    Stay safe and healthy!
    Michelle

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    michelle leverett
    Ridgecrest CA
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  • 4.  RE: Anxiety after open heart surgery

    Posted 03-18-2020 00:46
    Wash your hands and face.





  • 5.  RE: Anxiety after open heart surgery

    Posted 03-18-2020 10:34
    PTSD and heart issues,

    There are 1.4 million patients discharged every year from hospitals after a heart attack or coronary event, the equivalent of every person in our fifth largest city Philadelphia. Of the 1.4 million, 168,000 will develop "clinically significant" symptoms of PTSD, or the equivalent of every person in Chattanooga, TN, or Sydney, Australia. This is 12%, or one in every 8 heart patients, which is 900% higher than the estimated 1.3% in the general population (Columbia University study).

    "Clinically significant" PTSD has been defined as "significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other areas of functioning." In most cases the PTSD will last one to six months. In some cases professional assistance is required. I discuss specifics in my book "One Heart-Two Lives: Managing Your Rehabilitation Program WELL."

    Brent Zepke
      





  • 6.  RE: Anxiety after open heart surgery

    Posted 03-18-2020 11:11
    Wonderful into Brent...
     I had no idea the range was that
    high for symptoms of PTSD

    At 7 months post op I would have to say that my emotional
    life and health continues to improve everyday.

    I will look up your book.
    "One Heart-Two Lives: Managing Your Rehabilitation Program WELL."


    Thank you so much.  

    Mary H





  • 7.  RE: Anxiety after open heart surgery

    Posted 03-21-2020 17:48

    7 years ago i gad open heart surgery with complications  that hD ne in a coma for 10 days .  If anyone should have PTSD, it should br me. Fortunately the doctor had me on anti depressants and anti anxiety medicines for severL months afterwards. It doesnt help that the medical staff asks you "do you gave anxiety? Fo you want to hurt yourself? Etc"
    My husband suffered more than me as he  feared for my life,   MendedHearts  hearts meetings and friendships have been helpful to him especially even now years later.  

    If you are having issues, tell your doctors honestly. They will prescribe help for you 



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    Marilyn Rosenhouse
    Dallas TX
    (214) 850-0219
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  • 8.  RE: Anxiety after open heart surgery

    Posted 5 hours ago
    Hi,
    Their anxiety tends to enhance pain." Pain and anxiety are the most common problems for patients following coronary artery bypass grafting or valve replacement. The pain is caused by the stimulation of peripheral nerve endings in the muscles and tissue that have been cut and traumatized during surgery.
    Healing time will take at least two to three months. You can expect to have good and bad days during this time and you may feel tired, irritable, anxious, depressed or simply not quite yourself for a few weeks. Don't be worried if you express your moods and feelings more than before.

    Expressive Therapy For Depression



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    supermax sharma
    IN
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  • 9.  RE: Anxiety after open heart surgery

    Posted 03-18-2021 09:45
    i dont think there is a relation between open heart surgery and anxiety but if you i agree with that the green xanax bars 3mg is good to get rid of anxiety.

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    elvin chard
    Angola LA
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  • 10.  RE: Anxiety after open heart surgery

    Posted 03-18-2021 11:24
    Dear Brett and Elvin
    Of course, its natural to have anxiety after any major operation especially open heart surgery!  Many are afraid to do anything to reinjure their hearts!  thats one reason we are told to reduce STRESS ( since there is always stress ??? how to that is a whole new lifestyle). My doctor automatically prescribed anti anxiety medication during my recovery period.   His cocktail of anti anxiety, anti-depression,  and pain meds kept me happy during the recovery period ( 3 weeks in hospital, 3 weeks in rehab, one month at home, 12 weeks out patient rehab).  
    Please take advantage of medications, support of friends and relatives and PRAYERS 
    Time will help too. 

    Marilyn B. Rosenhouse
    Mobile: (214)850-0655






  • 11.  RE: Anxiety after open heart surgery

    Posted 03-18-2021 14:27
    Thanks, Marilyn. I wish my doctor would have been more proactive in addressing it up front like yours did. Not one person, neither the doctors or the nurses, gave me any indication on what to expect so I was kind of blindsided by it. I ended up doing my own research and thankfully stumbled across Mended Hearts. It's been a Godsend.






  • 12.  RE: Anxiety after open heart surgery

    Posted 03-18-2021 12:10
    Elvin ~ Depression and it's ugly step child anxiety do indeed go hand in hand with open heart surgery as Marilyn rightly pointed out. It is one of those many minor details doctors rarely mention to us, guess they're afraid we'll back out and they'll lose the revenue. The severity and duration vary by individual and probably relates to our personalities ( ie how much we drink of the grape).

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    Warren
    TucsonAZ
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  • 13.  RE: Anxiety after open heart surgery

    Posted 03-19-2021 10:12
    Elvin,
    This isn't the place to recommend an additional ??med?? are you a doctor?
    I don't think that any heart patient should be self diagnosing and taking another ??med?? on top of their prescriptions.





  • 14.  RE: Anxiety after open heart surgery

    Posted 03-28-2021 09:06
    Good morning, Brett
    I had full-blown PTSD after my complicated rescue from an extensive "widow-maker" obstruction in my left main artery.

    Anxiety, yes, as well as flashbacks, hypervigilence, fear of the dark, and feelings of dread.  I was afraid to go to bed because I could picture the EMTs at the foot of my bed setting up their equipment and then carrying me over their heads downstairs to the ambulance.  Then there was the concurrent fear of contracting COVID in the hospital as well as the isolation/loneliness of no visitor policies in two hospitals in two cities. On my own.

    Nurse friends connected me to a nurse therapist retired from UT-Austin and we met on Zoom for about 6 weeks.  She helped me get to a better place and to develop some specific coping strategies. Seven months later I still have bouts of anxiety about the future.  Prayer helps me put it all into perspective.

    Knowing that anxiety is common may be all the reality testing you need to do.  Don't hesitate to ask for counseling if your anxiety is top of mind to the extent you want to do something about it. Big deal surgeries requite a lot of "mental/emotional processing" in the months following.  OHS has so many dimensions....you're a survivor. Celebrate that.  Celebrate the opportunities every day to heal in small ways.  Take naps!  It's ok to just sit and stare out the window as you process your memories and current concerns.

    Stay in touch and let us know how you're doing.
    Peace and be of good cheer
    Doris

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    Doris Edwards
    Retired RN
    Dublin, Ohio
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  • 15.  RE: Anxiety after open heart surgery

    Posted 03-28-2021 11:31
    Good morning everyone, 
    Just my 2 cents worth as a OHS patient, who also started
    to feel anxiety after surgery.

    None of us wants to die, that is a very scary subject and
    does cause anxiety even without having OHS, but for me and 
    others, the knowledge that there is only a thin line between you and death can really get into your psyche and cause deep anxiety.

    I started listening to YouTube videos about the fear of death 
    and even on TED talks there are many speakers who address these issues.  Then I even went further and started meditation practice 2 times a day.

    It made a huge difference in my attitude and what I worry or don't worry about any more.  It is good to do healthy things like keep your weight down, stop smoking, watch the alcohol, and get exercise, but all in all we are pretty powerless over the day when our time here on earth is done.  Sometimes it takes a minute or 20 to realize I am focused on dying rather than on living, but when I realize what I am thinking about, I am then able to recognize those thoughts and move on to something else.  Wishing you all the best

    Mary






  • 16.  RE: Anxiety after open heart surgery

    Posted 04-04-2021 13:47
    Hi Brett,
    I had open heart surgery on January 12, 2021 and find that I'm anxious about my heart, my life, Covid, and pretty much everything. :(.  I have recently begun seeing a therapist who specializes in PTSD, and it's helping.  I think that open heart surgery is probably about the most traumatic thing that can happen to a person. You are not alone for sure.

    Best,
    Liza

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    Liza Levine
    New York NY
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  • 17.  RE: Anxiety after open heart surgery

    Posted 04-04-2021 14:06
    Dear Lisa and Brett
    it is very natural to have anxiety after open heart surgery!
    I had 3 panic attacks in the months after. One was when we were on a cruise, 6 months post/op. We were supposed to go tour Grand Cayman Island and i couldn’t leave the boat dock. What, you say, a vacation a cruise after only 6 months post open heart surgery (with complications that included 10 days in medically induced coma, 3 weeks inpatient rehab to get the strength to sit up) ?!?! Yes life goes on even better !

    Marilyn B. Rosenhouse
    Mobile: (214)850-0655




  • 18.  RE: Anxiety after open heart surgery

    Posted 04-05-2021 06:15
    Hi Marilyn, Liza and Brett,

    Marilyn, how strange it is that we had very similar post-op experiences.  I was kept in a medically induced coma on a ventilator for 13 days post surgery thanks  to ventilator induced bacterial pneumonia an antibiotic induced cdiff. I also then spent 3 weeks in a rehab hospital learning to feed myself, stand, walk and terrorize the physical therapists and attending medical staff by disarming their alarm system that alerted them when I left my wheelchair to get up and walk unsupervised.

    Liza and Brett, I'm now 38 months post OHS and I have not lost my deep sense of gratitude and joy at being permitted to live the rest of my life on borrowed time.  Don't get me wrong.  Each moment if life is sweet, regardless of whether we realize it at any particular moment or not, and whether or not we characterize ourselves as living on borrowed time.  It's just that I never quite felt this ongoing sense of gratitude until I kissed the front door of my home and greeted my dog, who waited for me like Greyfriars Bobby during my long 6 week hospitalization.

    I still experience PTSD symptoms, but I don't suffer them and I'm here to tell you that anxiety and fear are not a necessary or inevitable outcome of open heart surgery.

    All the best,

    Ira

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    Ira Reid
    Hoboken NJ
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  • 19.  RE: Anxiety after open heart surgery

    Posted 04-05-2021 09:06
    Thank you, Ira.  It feels better already just reading these posts and knowing that other people have experienced similar crazy hard stuff.
    Best,
    Liza

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    Liza Levine
    New York NY
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  • 20.  RE: Anxiety after open heart surgery

    Posted 04-05-2021 09:34
    Hi Lisa
    I'm 7 months post OHS (with complications) now and realizing that it was a life changing event which unfolds over time.  I am somewhat limited physically but I am gaining strength albeit slowly.  The anxiety and hyper vigilance have greatly lessened and I am happy every day.  I still have angina which requires NTG but now I think of taking nitro as giving my heart vessels a little boost rather than impending doom.
    You'll find your way
    Best wishes
    DE

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    Doris Edwards
    Retired RN
    Dublin, Ohio
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  • 21.  RE: Anxiety after open heart surgery

    Posted 05-21-2021 12:22
    Experiencing psychological upheaval after a cardiac procedure is much more common than you'd think. Just talking about it with others can do wonders to help. If you answer yes to any of these questions, it may be worth contacting your GP for assessment and possible treatment.

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    Mennes Drive
    New York NY
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  • 22.  RE: Anxiety after open heart surgery

    Posted 05-21-2021 14:17
    When I did go to rehab after my surgery, they would
    not discuss it personally with me.  They directed me
    to my physician who told me that time would take care of
    the anxiety I was going through

    I did my own work then by asking general questions here
    of other members and then doing work on my own with Anxiety issues.  I can say that now, I have no repercussions 
    about my Surgery now after 3 years

    Good luck
    Mary





  • 23.  RE: Anxiety after open heart surgery

    Posted 05-21-2021 14:58
    everyone responds differently pist operative.  Heart surgery is a BIG and its natural to wirry if all is ok.  I had several panic attacks, one was on the pier on Grand Cayman ( cruise port) 6 months after my open heart surgery 

    Marilyn B. Rosenhouse
    Mobile: (214)850-0655






  • 24.  RE: Anxiety after open heart surgery

    Posted 14 days ago
    Yes! I have anxiety and panic attacks more so now since my surgery for mitral valve repair. 4/19/2021. The only thing the Surgeon told me was he might do the minimally invasive approach through the ribs.
    I have anxiety and panic attacks normally but since the surgery it has been amplified. I get emotional very easily.
    The other thing I mentioned to the doctor, after the surgery is the numbness on the right side of my chest in my armpit and down my left side. It sometimes burns. The nurse practitioner says it's normal because they had to go through many layers of tissue and nerves may have been damaged as a result. She said most of the sensation will subside in months to come. I am very grateful to them for saving my life but more info would have been nice.
    The surgeon said I would spend 5 days in the hospital but I was in there for 10. I am seeking counseling and have gotten a psychiatrist to help deal with what my counselor called PTSD. It does happen. I am on psych meds to help but I think they have to up my doses.
    Because of the anxiety and panic attacks my blood pressure has been high. A vicious cycle when OCD is put into the mix along with possible bipolar.
    So yeah I'm a bit of a mess for now until they get this under control.
    I'm still waiting for rehab. That may also help when I can start to exercise again. I was very active until COVID hit and the back in Feb my breathing became impaired....SOB.....I wasn't diagnosed until April. Virtually every doctor I saw missed the problem so now trust has also become an issue with my doctors.
    SCARY STUFF.

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    Reed Palmer
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  • 25.  RE: Anxiety after open heart surgery

    Posted 14 days ago
    Yes, Reed and Brett, anxiety and depression are quite common after open heart surgery, but I'm here to tell you that they are not a necessary outcome.  Meditation, counseling (group with other survivors and individual), medication all can help.

    All you really need is a change in perspective.  I was lucky.  I emerged from my OHS and a 2 week medically induced coma filled with gratitude and love for everyone who saved my life and helped me along the way.  I was like Ebenezer Scrooge after his long night with the ghosts of Christmas.

    So, everything is possible.  You have been granted a new life, a second chance.  Embrace every moment, and let the future, which doesn't exist anyway except in your mind, take care of itself.

    Good luck,

    Ira

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    Ira Reid
    Hoboken NJ
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  • 26.  RE: Anxiety after open heart surgery

    Posted 14 days ago
    Ira is a wonderful example how the same OHS can have different results when it comes to dealing and healing with anxiety and depression

    I started daily meditation also and the knowledge that anxiety and depression is common after Heart Surgery actually helped me go deeper into relaxation techniques.

    I consider myself very lucky too, I was born with a perfectly
    normal heart that over 70 years became bitter and twisted in 
    many different ways, physically and emotionally.  

    My surgery was a wake up call and I consider and tell people that now my heart was put back in the right way 2 years ago and it is now my task and calling to keep it as healthy as possible from now on.

    Every time I do not let anxiety and depression guide my hours or days, I am working towards heart health.  And at this stage of life, this is my goal.

    Thank you Ira so much

    Mary







  • 27.  RE: Anxiety after open heart surgery

    Posted 13 days ago
    Thanks you, Mary, but "we're all just walking each other home" on this blog, as Ram Dass used to say.  We're all teaching and learning from one another how to live our lives as best we can in this amazing universe and recognizing, along the way, that we're really all the same.

    Ira

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    Ira Reid
    Hoboken NJ
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  • 28.  RE: Anxiety after open heart surgery

    Posted 14 days ago
    Thank you Ira
    Mine is very fresh and I'm have difficulty accepting that there's an artificial structure in my heart keeping me alive.
    I keep asking myself ....what if the part fails? Like my wife said to me to help me through this adjustment period..." The parts you were born with failed you so now you have brand new parts that will last a long time".
    I guess I'm obsessing about what my cardiologist and pulmonologist said to me......"Your damaged mitral valve could last you for the rest of your life....you could go to your grave not needing surgery to replace it". My wife told me I took that as a guarantee....she's right, I kind of did.
    When I became asymptomatic, I thought something else was going on....especially when my two doctors said my valve looked like usual for me and they didn't see any change.
    It was when my wife took me to the ER because my coloring and breathing became even more labored.
    The ER shipped me to Mass General Boston when after three days of testing they had me in surgery to repair the valve.
    Scary times.
    Hopefully I get a change in perspective after I see my counsellor and a psychiatrist to help me.
    Thanks for your support Ira...

    ------------------------------
    Reed Palmer
    ------------------------------



  • 29.  RE: Anxiety after open heart surgery

    Posted 13 days ago
    Reed,

    Your wife is 100% correct.  Your natural parts did fail and your artificial new parts successfully replaced them.  Think of it this way; you can now tell all your friends that you are an android.  I still tell people that my scars were the result of surviving a bear attack.

    In physical rehab after my surgery, a guy who had received a knee reconstruction was struggling struggling with a walking exercise and asked the physical therapist why I was moving better than him.  She replied that I had a different type of surgery, to which I replied, "yeah, they cut my heart out of my body and held it in their hands", at which point everyone burst out laughing while the therapist announced "they did not."

    One more story.  During my post-surgery ICU delusions and hallucinations, there was this very large powerful nurse who would lift me effortlessly. I was convinced he was a robot and, as I was regaining a more normal state of mind, I looked him in the eyes and asked him straight up, "are you an android?", to which he laughed and replied that he was quite human.  He once told me he had Star Wars dreams and asked me if I did.  I deadpanned "no, I just dream of going to the white light at the end of a long dark tunnel." That got a rise out of him!  Humor is great medicine.

    Ira

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    Ira Reid
    Hoboken NJ
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  • 30.  RE: Anxiety after open heart surgery

    Posted 13 days ago
    Dear Reed, 
    What your going through hapoenes to all of us in various ways. Your are still recovering physically and mentally.  It takes time and Patience.  Check in with your surgeon and cardiologist.   it may be that you need some anti-anxiety medication for the short term.   It takes your brain , your heart and body a while to recooperate from  all the anesthesia and your preop issues also.  

    I left the hospital and rehab with a bunch if medication and had to ask the doctor to wean off.  i was always cheerful, never worried but my thinking was constant and confused : well it turns out that I was on antidepressants and anti anxiety medication.. I had though all the medications were just Heart related.  And yes it is good for your heart  to not have anxiety and stress and  depression 
    Marilyn B. Rosenhouse
    Mobile: (214)850-0655






  • 31.  RE: Anxiety after open heart surgery

    Posted 14 days ago
    Hi Brett
    I found this site by chance. Your comments caught my eye. What you experienced is what I'm doing now.
    Thank you for sharing.

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    Reed Palmer
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