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Does Rob Lowe Have Cardiac Depression After Heart Surgery?

Posted by Adam Pick on March 23rd, 2009

I don’t know if you like the television show Brothers and Sisters, Sunday nights on ABC. But, Robyn (my very pregnant wife) and I really enjoy watching the trials-and-tribulations of the Walker family.

“Why is Adam writing about Brothers and Sisters?” you may be scratching your head and thinking.

Well… On Brothers and Sisters, Rob Lowe plays the role of Robert McCallister – an eager politician striving to balance the demands of running for governor, fatherhood and his wife, Calista Flockhart (aka Kitty Walker). Recently, Lowe’s character had an unexpected heart attack and cardiac bypass procedure.

Rob Lowe's Character On Brother's And Sister's Experience Cardiac Depression
Rob Lowe After Heart Surgery On Brothers And Sisters

In the last episode, we learn that Lowe’s character is, like many heart surgery patients, experiencing the symptoms of cardiac depression. Personally, I could relate to many of the challenges that Rob Lowe’s character is going through after my own episode with cardiac depression following aortic valve replacement surgery.

FYI, it is estimated that between 30%-50% of heart surgery patients experience some form of cardiac depression. My own research suggested that 32% of the 78 patients I surveyed experienced cardiac depression following heart valve surgery.

Post-surgery cardiac depression can be caused by a number of reasons including being worried that something is wrong, being afraid of dying, fearing that your recovery is problematic and being concerned about the success of your operation. To address this issue, I devoted an entire chapter to cardiac depression in my book.

So… Does Rob Lowe have cardiac depression?

Not really.

But, it is good to see a television show that illustrates the realities of heart surgery from the patient perspective. As we have discussed before, this is diametrically opposed to some of the ridiculous stories presented on Grey’s Anatomy.

Great job to the writers at Brothers and Sisters!

Keep on tickin!

Adam Pick
Written by Adam Pick A dad, a husband and a patient, Adam Pick founded this website in 2006 to educate you about heart valve surgery from diagnosis to recovery.
You can get the latest updates about heart valve surgery from Adam at his Facebook, and Twitter pages. Click here to email him.


Taylor says on March 23rd, 2009 at 3:20 pm

Hey Adam – My wife too has roped me into the Walker clan drama! They may have portrayed McCalister’s emotional recovery fairly realistically but they’re not really true to the sternal precautions! They way he uses his arms to support his weight when he gets in and out of chairs would have shot rockets of pain to my chest!


Adam Pick says on March 23rd, 2009 at 3:27 pm


Good point.

I guess I was overly sensitive to the mental elements of cardiac depression. However, as you note, I can definitely relate to those “sternal shot rockets” of pain. Never heard it described that way but it should be… Are you a writer?


Keep on tickin!



Joan Parkinson says on March 23rd, 2009 at 6:25 pm

I too follow Brothers & Sisters and I see Roberts miraculous recovery. You are never sure if one week in our time is 3 weeks in TV time. However I certainly laughed at him playing video games with his kids on the day he got home from the hospital. I barely made it from the car to the bed. Oh the magic of TV!!
I am eight weeks into an uneventful recovery with no depression in sight.


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