“Deep Breathing Pain After Open Heart Surgery?” Asks Bruce
Bruce just sent me an interesting question about chest pain related to deep breathing after heart valve surgery.
His email reads, “Hi Adam, I’m ten weeks into recovery and getting a little nervous – hopefully, for no reason. My surgeon tells me my mitral valve surgery went perfect and that my mitral prolapse is fixed. But, I’m having a lot of chest pain. Specifically, it hurts to take deep breaths. As an active 62-year old, I notice it most during walks as my heart rate increases and I start to breathe heavier. Any thoughts? Thanks, Bruce”
Bruce’s question brings back a distinct memory from my early recovery. In fact, deep breathing pain was one of my biggest complaints during cardiac rehab classes. I would be peddaling away on the exercise bike when a sharp, cramp-like pain would flare-up across my sternum and rib cage.
I’d say to Debbie, my cardiac rehab nurse, “Is something wrong with my sternum? I’m feeling a lot of pain when I take deep breaths during exercise?” Debbie reassured me that everything was fine and that it might take some more time for the inside of my upper body to heal and adjust given the trauma of open heart surgery.
Ultimately, Debbie was 100% right.
So you know, I’m just getting back from a 30-minute swim… It been three years now since my surgery. Guess what? No chest pain during exercise!
That said, I would suggest to Bruce that breathing pain after surgery can be common among patients. However, should the pain persist or remain uncomfortable, please visit your surgeon to confirm there are no other issues with your recovery from open heart surgery.
Keep on tickin!
Adam Pick is a patient, author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery and the founder of HeartValveSurgery.com.