What Are The Side Effects After Open Heart Surgery?

A heart bypass surgery is a type of open heart surgery which is generally performed in an acute heart failure treatment. Response to and the aftereffects from an open heart surgery, be it a coronary artery bypass for clogged arteries or a valve repair/ replacement for a narrow or leaky valve, is different for different individual. The side effects may range from being mild to serious, which can best be anticipated and treated by experienced surgeons. While it is advisable to speak to your doctor about the potential risks after the surgery, here are some of the common side effects which are likely to occur:

  1. Arrhythmia – An abnormal heart rhythm is called an arrhythmia. Arrhythmias are very common complications after a cardiac surgery. Most arrhythmias are harmless, but some can be serious or even life threatening.
  2. Less Appetite – It takes several weeks for a patient to regain appetite. Many patients notice that their sense of taste is diminished or almost absent. It will return. Some patients even complain of nausea at the smell of food for about a week or two after surgery.
  3. Have Some Swelling – Especially if you have an incision in your leg due to harvesting a healthy vein that leg will tend to swell more for some time. Elevating your legs will help. Wear your elastic TED hose if they were prescribed for you.
  4. Difficulty in Sleeping at Night – You may find it difficult to fall asleep, or you may find that you wake up at 2 or 3 a.m. and cannot fall back to sleep. This will improve. Taking a pain pill before bed sometimes helps.
  5. Constipation Problem – You may use a laxative of your choice. Add more fruits, fiber and juice in your diet.
  6. Mood Swings and Depression – You may have good days and bad days. Do not become discouraged. This will get better. Have a lump at the top of your incision. This will disappear with time.
  7. Occasional Clicking Noise or Sensation in Your Chest – in the first days after surgery. This should occur less often with time and go away completely within the first couple of weeks. If it gets worse, call your surgeon.
  8. Having muscle pain or tightness in your shoulders and upper back between your shoulder blades. This will get better with time. Your pain medicine will also help relieve this discomfort & the society of thoracic surgeons.
  9. Memory Loss – Temporary changes in memory and thinking skills are common after heart bypass surgery.

Apart from these mild and temporary side effects there is a risk involved in an open heart surgery. A patient who has just gone through a heart surgery may suffer heart attacks which go unnoticed due to lack of symptoms.

Common symptoms of heart attack can range from mild pain to sudden and intense pain. Post surgery, most of the heart attacks or injuries happen within the first 48 hours. During this time, most of these patients take pain medications, which can mask the symptoms of a serious heart injury. However a simple blood test can reveal the heart condition and prevent it from being fatal.