The Realities of Cardiac Depression after Open Heart Surgery
I just received an interesting email from Carol that directly relates to heart surgery recovery. Carol writes, “Hi Adam – My husband had mitral valve replacement three weeks ago. I’m curious… Did you experience depression after heart valve surgery? Is it common for patients to experience cardiac depression following heart valve repair or heart valve replacement?”
Let me start by answering Carol’s first question. Yes, I did experience both heart surgery and depression. I had my pulmonary and aortic valves replaced in 2005. As for cardiac depression, I did not have any immediate form of depression during my 5 days in the hospital or during the first three weeks following my heart valve replacement surgery recovery. However, as I entered into my fourth week of recovery, I did begin to experience many symptoms of this post-operative condition.
Needless to say, this was not a very fun time in my life. Pre-surgery, I was a very upbeat person. For me, the glass was always “half-full”. I’m an optimist that believes anything is possible. Post-surgery, however, I was exactly the opposite. I was lethargic, anxious, confused, pessimistic and isolated. I was also having issues sleeping.
What a miserable experience for me and all of my caregivers, especially my fiance (Robyn). I was a mess. And, my family… I don’t know how they put up with me!!! Thank goodness those dark days are lonnnnnnnnnnng gone.
To better understand cardiac depression, I researched the this topic for my book. I created a survey that was completed by many former heart valve surgery patients. As you would imagine, several survey questions directly related to depression.
The survey results are very, very, very interesting. In one of the questions, I asked the former patients, “Did you experience any form of cardiac depression during your recovery?”
Before I give you the results, my previous research suggested that between 30% – 75% of heart surgery patients experience cardiac depression. My research also suggested that more men than women are impacted by depression after heart valve surgery.
With that said, here are the results from my survey. According to the patients surveyed, 32% of patients experienced heart surgery and depression. That’s a pretty significant number.
Now, the questions become… How do you avoid cardiac depression? And, if you experience this condition after surgery, how do you get your recovery back on track?
Keep on tickin!
Adam Pick is a patient, author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery and the founder of HeartValveSurgery.com.