How Long Until Patients Regain Consciousness After Open Heart Surgery?

I just clicked on an email from Esther that reads, “Hi Adam – How long does it take for patients to regain consciousness after open heart surgery? I am preparing for the replacement of my mitral valve due to my worn out and prolapsed mitral valve. I’m just curious to know how long I’ll be unconscious, under general anesthesia. Thanks. Esther.”

From my own experience, I can share with you that I went under general anesthesia at 11am – once I was brought into the operating room. According to Robyn, my wife, my open heart surgery was 3 hours long. After surgery, I was rolled into the intensive care unit (ICU) where I was actively monitored by an ICU nurse for the next several hours.

Unconscious Patient With Vent Tube In ICU

Then, around 5:30pm, I SLOOOOOOWLY (emphasis added) began to regain consciousness. At first, I only heard noises. Next, my eyes began to open slightly and close slightly. The epic moment, when I knew I had fully regained consciousness was when the very uncomfortable ventilator tube was removed from my dry throat.

So, given the above, it took me about 6.5 hours to regain consciousness after open heart surgery. However, please know that each patient case is unique. There are many variables which could impact surgery length (e.g. heart surgery complications) and the time that a patient is unconscious.

I hope that helps explains how long it takes for a patient to regain consciousness after heart surgery.

Keep on tickin!

Adam Pick
Written by Adam Pick

Adam Pick is a patient, author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery and the founder of HeartValveSurgery.com.

To learn how Adam has helped millions of people with heart valve disease, watch Adam's video, subscribe to his free newsletter, or visit his Facebook, or Twitter pages.

  • Leslie

    Hi Adam, it’s your fan Leslie again … I had mitral valve repair and I went into surgery at 10 AM, came out of surgery about 6 PM (yes I was in there that long because it took nearly 2 hours just to prep me and I had the Da Vinci robot, which takes longer, and my surgery was more complicated than they expected plus they found a hole in my heart which they repaired_ whew)….anyway, I do not remember a single thing until 11:30 pm . But when I woke up I really woke up, I looked up at the clock first thing, saw the time, tried to say something and noticed I had this big ole ventilator in the way. The next hour was spent slowly being weaned from the oxygen in the tube and proving I could breathe well on my own and at 12:30 am out came the ventilator, yay! And I felt pretty darned good for what I went through.

  • Gail Ginsburg

    My husband had an aortic valve replacement and mitral valve repair. Surgery took about 2 hours once they went on the heart lung machine and another hour to close. He was in intensive care less than an hour before the breathing tube was removed. I came back 2 hours later and he was wide awake and fully with it. He was talking non stop. He stayed that way all night. None of the other patients woke up that fast……it’s an individual thing for sure.

  • Desiree

    A friend of mine, online mind you, had a hole in her heart repaired and went in one morning and was about by lunch. Is this possible?

  • JANE NAY

    Hi, i had OHS just over a year ago, my op lasted 6 hours, i was finally taken to ICU at 5pm, my hubby came to see me coulpe of hours later, i was on a ventilater complete out of it, he stayed a an hour with me then went home. At 10pm that night i phoned home i cannot remember doing so, my son answered the phone as i have been told and my hubby asked who it was my son said its mum, my hubby said dont be daft i have just seen her in the hospital she was on a ventilater and the hospital said i would stay on it for about 12 hours, he took the phone off my son, and i said hi, its me im fine, have you had something to eat, then said im tired . love you, bye, after that i dont remember anything till i was moved onto the ward 3 days later, perhaps thats good that i dont.

  • Ashik Anwar

    my dad just had a mitral valve replacement surgery yesterday, the operation involved some complications such as calcification of the valve and blood vessel. his surgery took quiet sometime and ended around 3:30PM yesterday, till now (23 hours later) he is unconscious and we are worried, I am searching on the internet for clues since the doctor said it is something to be worried and they are trying. he is on ventilator and support. his blood pressure and heart rate is normal (however with support). this is certainly not normal ? but do you all know of cases of survival even after this ?

  • INHAM LUTFI

    my dad just had a bypass surgery last monday almost 6 days, the operation involved bypass with plastic tube. his surgery took quiet sometime and ended and doctor advised again to remove one leg and we accepted to remove it. but still he his unconcious and we are woried. Today today advised us may be they have to go for brain scan and do the operation in brain. he is unconscious and we are worried, I am searching on the internet for clues since the doctor said it is something to be worried and they are trying. he is on ventilator and support. his blood pressure and heart rate is up and down also he got some fever upto 105. this is certainly not normal ? but do you all know of cases of survival even after this ?

  • Jason

    I have a friend that had a triple bypass and is now on conscious over 48 hours is this normal

  • Gunjan

    My uncle had a heart valve replacement sergory and he is still unconscious since last 5 days. He is on ventilator and we are worried. His heart pumping is still below than average, doctors are saying just wait and watch because until he wake up or come conscious they can’t say or do anything.but does anyone knows what are the Chances of survival after this? How long maximum a person can remain unconscious after these kind of surgery?

  • nishant

    My mother age 70 yr ,operated for aortic valve replacement &operation end at 1 p.m. &doctor said she become concious at 8 pm but yet at 11pm he told that she became concious in morning

  • vikas

    how is your dad now?

  • Lily

    My brother had double bypass surgery yesterday at noon, the doctors chose to keep him on a ventilator for 24 hours or longer, it’s an especial reason for this, should I be more worry than normal???

  • Çağatay Belgen

    Can you please share what had happened afterwards? finally how long did it take him to wake up? I hope you notice this message quickly.

  • Çağatay Belgen

    Please guys, share what happened afterwards. How is he now? How long did it eventually take him to wake up?

  • Prasad Joshi

    Hi , can you pls update about the situation afterwards what happened ???

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