Heart bypass surgery
September 24, 2017 11:25 AM   Subscribe

A family member is having double bypass surgery tomorrow after multiple heart attacks following in-stent restenosis. They are mid-60s and in otherwise good health (no smoking ever, normal weight.) I am terrified. Can anyone tell me your experience and what to expect?
posted by Violet Hour to Health & Fitness (15 answers total)
I am certainly no expert, but a really close friend is mine had quadruple bypass surgery in August. He is horribly overweight, eats whatever he wants, doesn't exercise. He is doing well, came through the surgery fine.
posted by chocolatetiara at 11:37 AM on September 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

My father-in-law got multiple bypasses and the surgery improved his quality of life by a whole lot.
posted by Too-Ticky at 11:55 AM on September 24, 2017 [2 favorites]

My 87-year-old mother-in-law had a heart attack and then double bypass surgery this summer. She was pretty tired for a while but is doing great. It helps that she does walks in the pool most days.
posted by maurreen at 12:14 PM on September 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

Bypasses are one of the oldest and most common heart-type surgeries (wikipedia says it's 1.4% of all operations). It's invasive for sure, but there is enough expertise and experience out there that the <1 week hospital stay for initial healing seems generally oriented more toward surprise complications than fighting to prop them up.
posted by rhizome at 12:28 PM on September 24, 2017 [3 favorites]

Anecdotal but my dad had a triple bypass at age 58, has terrible eating habits and doesn't exercise regularly but is still going strong at 74.
posted by amro at 12:37 PM on September 24, 2017 [3 favorites]

I walked in your shoes. When my mother-in-law was in her early or mid seventies she had a triple bypass and in my heart I was quaking and sure she would die (I'm usually more sanguine). But she did fine and survived for many years.
posted by puddledork at 12:54 PM on September 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

My father had 2 rounds of bypasses, and that extended his life by a good 15 years at least. They are wonderful things, and very very routine. Slow recovery in my father's case (because he had other health problems), but no problems with or from the procedure itself.
posted by JanetLand at 1:04 PM on September 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

Dad has his CABG surgery 10 years ago after an angiogram after his mild MI found five blockages. It's understandable to be freaked out; it may be routine, but heart surgery can really ramp up that visceral fear. Post op, they're going to want them out of bed and ambulatory pretty quickly to stave off blood clots and pneumonia. Not sure how soon after surgery you'll be seeing them, but immediately post op, they may look swollen from retained fluids; it's normal. They'll be given a pillow to press against their incision when they cough or twist, and encouraged to do deep breathing exercises; again to avoid pna or clots; cheerlead their use of these. They'll probably go to cardiac rehab to rebuild strength/stamina, since they will be pretty wiped out. Mood swings or depression, are common, Dad TOTALLY lost his filter for a few months. Be patient.
posted by jacy at 1:04 PM on September 24, 2017 [2 favorites]

Yeah, at this point for patients the risk of by-pass is more about the nature and extent of the co-morbidities and state of general health that complicate recuperation. Sheer repetition and technology, especially pulse oximetry, have done a lot to cut down the direct surgical complications and failures.
posted by MattD at 1:20 PM on September 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

My grandfather had a quintuple bypass. He had been a longtime smoker, and was in his late seventies or early eighties at the time of the surgery. He came through it just fine, and felt much better afterwards.
posted by thinman at 1:32 PM on September 24, 2017

My father had a valve replacement and his health improved significantly.
posted by brujita at 2:34 PM on September 24, 2017

Be prepared for your family member to look... for lack of a better term... "beat up" when you see them after surgery. My dad looked like he'd been punched in the face after his heart surgery due to placement of breathing tubes and other apparatus. We were told that this was routine, and the bruises went away fairly quickly, but it would have been nice to have some warning.
My dad's surgery was five years ago, he's 81 now, and is doing just fine.
posted by bookmammal at 3:19 PM on September 24, 2017

My 88-year-old grandfather had a triple bypass when he was 82. He had his first open heart in his late 50s. He recovered much quicker this time around, and his heart is better than it's been in years. They are remarkable in what they can do.
posted by Sreiny at 3:23 PM on September 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

My mom had quintuple bypass surgery and she did great until her mom died two years later and one of her siblings handed her a cigarette after the funeral and she went back to chain-smoking. As noted above, depression after the surgery is a common experience. So is fear; my mom didn't ask her doctors but just was afraid all the time about doing various things that there was no reason to be afraid of doing. So make sure docs talk to your family member about things that will be OK to do eventually, sex included, if there is even the slightest possibility that that might come up. Good luck!
posted by Bella Donna at 3:40 PM on September 24, 2017

Best answer: My Dad had triple bypass and heart valve replacement surgery at 70. (over weight. and not in good health) He's still kicking.

It is a long day. The surgery itself takes several hours. We got there early in the morning and waited in a big main waiting area for a while during the check-in and prep process. After they took him in for surgery we got to go into a smaller waiting area. They called and updated us every couple of hours. It was about dinner time before he was in ICU and opened his eyes.

For the patient: it's going to be a lot of pain. They had to break open dad's ribs to get to everything, so he felt like he had been hit by a truck. THe first 24 hours or so he was mostly in and out of sleep and kind of out of it. He was in ICU for a few days until all of his bloodwork was good enough to move to the cardiac rehab unit. He was there for a couple of days before they sent him home. After that, he had daily visits from a home nurse for a few weeks. A pretty common but not talked about side effect of anesthesia and major surgery is depression. The medical staff should be watching for this, but you should be aware of it, too. The hospital might have a religious minister come around if your relative has a denomination listed in the forms, so be prepared for that. ( I got to hear my nominally-Catholic dad let the priest who showed up that The Church didn't have all the answers, thank you very much. )

For yourself: It's a very long day. Have plans for someone to walk your dog, or feed your cat, or take your kids overnight. I was at the hospital over 24 hours before i felt like i could go home for a shower and a nap. Have plans for someone to shuttle you around if that's the case. I was in no shape to be driving at that point. Make sure you pack some snacks, and a water bottle, and chargers for whatever electronic devices you bring. Yes, the hospital will have a cafeteria, but i didn't want to leave the phone in the waiting room for even a minute. There might be a social worker/counselor/ minister making the rounds in the waiting room, or you can ask to speak to one for moral support.

Probably just stick to bringing a phone and ipad or something. i brought my work laptop becuase i figured i should do that, but honestly, kitten videos on you tube were all i could concentrate for. Don't forget headphones. So, magazines and maybe some colored pencils if you want, too. If you crochet or knit or something, that would probably be good. But you're not going to have the attention span for War and Peace.

Feel free to email me with more specific questions.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 5:50 PM on September 24, 2017 [3 favorites]

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