“Did Your Heart Pound Like Crazy After Valve Surgery?” Asks Josh

Josh just asked me an important, post-operative question about elevated heartbeat sensations after heart valve surgery and aneurysm repair. I responded below but, if you are a former patient, maybe you can help Josh by leaving a comment as well? Here is what he writes:

Animation Of Pumping & Contracting Heart

“Adam: I do have one question about something that is bothering me.  I’ve tried to do some research on the web about this, but haven’t really found anything.  After surgery, all the medical personnel involved had said that I’d be more ‘aware’ of my heart beating after aortic valve replacement and aneurysm repair.  That is, due to the fact that since my pericardium would be cut for surgery, I’d lack the ‘insulation’ it provides. Boy were they right!  Sometimes I feel like my heart is pounding out of my chest. When I’m laying down on my sides or stomach in bed, I hear my heart beating through the pillow louder than ever.  And here’s the kicker – when I’m in a sitting position (driving, watching TV, at the computer, etc.) and I inhale deeply, it seems like I feel my heart literally banging against my upper chest/throat area. When I exhale, it seems to go back to normal; or the “new” normal anyway.  I was curious as to whether you or anyone else on the blog has felt a similar sensation. Thanks Josh!”

So you know, I had the exact same experience that Josh describes above. How about you? Did you experience a loud and pounding heartbeat after heart valve surgery? To leave a comment, please click here.

If you scroll down, you will find over 130 responses to this post.

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.

  • Mary Anne Tillona

    My husband had aortic valve replacement almost a year ago and complains of the same thing, almost verbatim. When he complains of this, I can feel his hear pounding if I touch his side. His physicians don’t have an explanation and his tests are normal. He’s lost over 20 pounds, so clearly has less cushioning. We were wondering if this is normal, so these posts are very helpful in calming our fears.

  • Brian Schneider

    You got that right ! It sure bothered me for months afterward. Finlly went away like a lot of other odd sensations so if there is a next time I know what to expect. Hope you’re feeling better !

  • Pablo

    Hi Guys and Gals,

    I am 48 and had a porcine aortic tissue valve replacement with dacron replacement of portion of ascending aorta. I am 3 weeks out from surgery and also note a very strong heart beat in my upper chest and also can hear it in my ears. I read somewhere that some nerve endings that had never been sensitized to the heartbeat are, for the first time due to minute changes in your heart placement due to surgery, now attuned to this beating and after months these nerves become sensitized to the rhythm. Not to worry! Why porcine at my age? I’ve been vegetarian for 20 years and very active, couldn’t go the mechanical route with blood thinners. Green leafy veggies and coumadin don’t mix well. My Emory surgeon is convinced that by 2022 or whenever I need a new valve, non-invasive methods, including robotic will be standard and routine. Anyway, doing great, no pain meds now, though still a bit sore in the sternum area. Take care amigos!

  • Denise

    I am 49 yo female that just discovered a month ago that I had severe aortic stenosis. On July 1st I had a St. Jude Medical Carbon fiber mechanical heart valve installed in my heart. The surgery went well, hardly any pain, and I was up and walking two days post op! I am not concerned about the lifetime of blood thinners because you CAN eat green stuff on coumadin, you just have to eat the same amount every day. The stenosis had me feeling extreme fatigue for the past three years, unfortunately the doctors attributed it to depression rather than heart failure. It is extremely important for patients to ASK their Dr. to listen to their heart when they have a checkup. I suffered for several years until an young ENT doctor made the time to listen to my heart; he discovered the abnormal heartbeat and sent me to the cardiologist and finally the surgery that has saved my life. Every day above ground is a good day! Praise God!

  • Rae

    Hi, my name is Rachel. I’m 30 years old and I have have had two aortic valve replacements. The first I had 10 years ago, and the second just a month back. I’m still going through the healing process, which seems very different to last time.

    My heartbeat is most certainly louder at night, and more so than normally. It beats so loud I can’t sleep at first and its most disturbing. However, I have the comfort of knowing that it’s working!

    I tend to do things to distract my thoughts, or literally I will tap or scratch the pillow, so it’s louder than the beat, crazy I know. And yes, I too feel and hear it more when I breath in.

    I try to remember last time, I try to compare the two. But I remember having these worries and fears last time, and that one by one they got better. So although you feel it now, it will get less and soon you’ll not notice the difference!

    Thanks R

  • Todd

    Josh just want to let you know that I’m on my second valve repair, replacement surgery. I’m going through the same thing as you are, same positions everything, and let me tell you it is one of the most difficult things to get used to. I thought I would have no problem with it this time but I was wrong. My heart had gone into afib while in the hospital and had to have my heart shocked to get back into sinus rhythm. So almost every time I wake up it feels like I’m back in it because my heart feels like it’s going to come out of my chest. So i get my bp machine and check out rhythm and everything is perfect but my mind wants to believe otherwise. Now I’m much more at ease after reading your statement Your statement was extremely comforting to hear since it was something I have not ever asked my cardiologist. Hope all is going well and take care

  • liza eden

    Had my valve replacement surgery almost 3 months ago. I made it through the surgery just fine, was up and walking on 2nd day. It wasn’t untill i went home that I noticed the “sound”. Heartbeating so loud it keeps me awake and the clicking. I too asked the doctors and they say the same thing “it sounds great”. I am so glad that I came upon this site. It is a comfort to know that what i am feeling and hearing is normal. I was sure that there had to be something wrong. Just last week I told someone I wishe I’d never had the surgery. Knowing what I feel is common is a relief. I went back to work three days ago and although I get tired quikly I no longer get short of breath or sweaty for no reason, huge problem before surgery. I was given the St. Jude and will be on coumadin for life. I will sleep better tonight knowing I am not alone.

  • Frank Marocco

    Liza- I had and still have the same sensation and my surgery was over one year ago! It is really noticable when I lie on my left side. I just think of it as a reminder that my heart is working alot better than it was! FYI-I have the St. Jude also.

  • Rob R

    Thanks for posting this question Josh and to all for sharing. I’m 47 and had aortic valve replacement and aortic root enlargement (to accommodate the required diameter of the St. Jude mechanical valve) in June 2011 so am almost 5 months out. Am still in cardiac rehab which I recommend to all who have had a cardiac event.

    I noticed the pounding of my heart while in the hospital and it’s the same now. Doctors haven’t been concerned about me having this sensation and often remark that “it’s loud” when they listen to my chest. I’m on the thin side and feel my heart beat intensely, in addition to hearing it beat and the clicking of the valve. All of these sensations have been difficult to deal with and to feel calm while experiencing. I’ve found it can take me 15 minutes or longer to quiet my body and put these sensations in the background enough so that I can meditate. Falling asleep has been hard, am still sleeping mostly upright. The only way I can fall asleep is with white noise–I use an ocean waves sounds app on my smartphone which works well.

    For most people, taking a deep breath is a relaxing thing and calming, but since my surgery taking a deep breath triggered two sensations–sternal pain and an increased heart rate. The sternal pain is lingering but has continued to subside. But getting used to heart rate rapidly increasing when I take a deep breath is bizarre and not so comforting. I hope this sensation eases as I heal more.

    I had aflutter and afib episodes about a month after surgery which didn’t respond well to rhythm control drugs so had to be cardioverted in the hospital. That procedure worked well (though a bit scary to go through). Skipped beat sensations which I understand to be PVCs are something I experience almost daily, usually when my heart rate goes below 80 bpm. It’s an unnerving sensation and sometimes can make me gasp a little if the beat following the skipped beat is particularly forceful. Doctors are not concerned about these skipped beats and continue to tell me my heart is working well (YAY!) I was also told that most likely my heart had learned to work harder than it needed to to pump blood through the calcified valve. Now that the valve has no obstructions, the heart muscles may still be squeezing harder than they need to and need to adapt to needing to work less hard, which it should do, in time. I’ll have a follow-up echocardiagram in a few months so will get a full assessment of how well the valves are working then.

  • Maxine

    I am 18 months post surgery for aortic valve replacement and my heart pounds so hard it makes my headache. I am told to expect this, but my blood pressure also goes extremely high until my heart calms down, then everything goes back to normal. The least exertion I do makes this happen and it is very scary. Do others experience this and do they get told it is to be expected?

  • Simon

    Hi, I had a aortic valve replacement at 24 then again at 25..now 8 months ago I had to have the root replaced at 37, before the root I could hear the ticking very load only but now after i’ve had the root replaced it feels its wacking against my chest and I can feel it in my neck and chin, when I breath in it gets really strong! its been great to read this as its been really scaring me, I’ve not had much advice from the doctor and feel very alone and its effecting my life, i live day to day thinking its going to fail, I still drink and occasionaly smoke to deal with anxiety issues and I hate that I do that! at the end of the day I’ve been saved several time and I should be just thankfull for that. I found that if you cuddle a pillow in bed it eas’s the sensation!

  • Marilynne Lambert

    I was given until I was 30 to live. But am thankful for the chance to have a Metal Aorta valve fitted at age 36, that is 27 years ago. It is a child’s valve flown down from Scotland on that day of the operation to Yorkshire due to my size. It is a Duramatic size 19 (I may have not spelt that correct)
    I am on Warfarin and do my own blood tests with my CoaguChek and dose myself.

    Yes I still hear it clicking still but not half as bad as I used to. Better that then having to keep going through so many operations having a tissue one. I was told 18 months ago by a very uncaring lady Dr, that I could die having another op due to the valve being so very tight and small but it was the only size that would fit at the time!!!
    I have been getting a lot of extra beats lately and it has started fluttering a lot also. I had to have a 24 hour tape fitted a few months ago. My Valve Dr said that I have to stay on Beta blocker, started about 4 years ago.
    It is good to hear that others have the same and have also said it make you feel less on your own with it all.

    One thing that I am mad about is the new ruling that says that we are not allowed to have antibiotics when having teeth out or any operations that could leave us ending up with bugs on our valves.
    Well I for one am not prepared to put my life at risk through some high up coming up with their new ideas!!!!
    When I know a lady who got bugs on her valve when she was not given antibiotics and had to be rushed in for valve to be replaced by a NEW one!!! So unnecessary when Antibiotics could have prevented it!!! She was very poorly.
    What are you going to do about this?
    I am insisting that I have them as it is MY LIFE not theirs!!!!
    My valve Dr told me that his hands are tied as he is not allowed to recommend them any more!!!
    Even though he has insisted for 27years that I MUST be PROTECTED by them!!!

    I have started to live and have fun now after a bad marriage of 40 year!!
    Now going down South to see my lover for a week every month.
    So glad that I have had the chance to live these extra 34 years in my retiring years and still acting like a 20 year old!!!! x

  • rose filice

    4 months post surgery-same thumping against my chest, mostly sitting up =eases some lying down, Thank God for sleep. Cardiologist not concerned, so typical, he doesn’t live it. Some days worse than others, tonight I needed valium, anxiety and a lack of peace do get to me. Everyone seems to have different stories as to whether it gets better in time and healing? You are all the bravest people I know, going through all this and living with the side effects of heart repair. Cardiac depression and discouragement are very real parts of this surgery. I have tried 400 mg of magnesium a day too- good advice- couldn’t hurt. Be glad to get off some of the drugs I hope?
    U r all in my best wishes and I am where u r too!

  • Diane

    Hi Dale, just had the Bentall’s done 6 weeks ago. I have the St. Jude implant it is just as loud. I sit here at 3:30am in the morning awaken by the loud beating of my heart. I run the fan to drown out the sound (sometimes it works sometimes it don’t). I am thankful for everything going well with the surgery, but the loud beating is a very unpleasant side effect. Best wishes to everyone on the site. And thanks to God for life.

  • rose filice

    I do not have a mechanical valve, ,just the porcine one. The pounding is positional when I am seated upright and diminishes when I lay down , Thank God, I can sleep. A visit to the cardiologist at 3 mo’s last week was disturbing. He is sending me back to the surgeon as he thinks the sternum hasn’t healed and may be responsible for what I am feeling. I will have a CAT but there is possibility I will need to have it rewired..yes another surgery. So be advised and check that with your Dr. as well if you have such odd symptoms.

  • Norm

    Just hang in there guys, it will get less loud with time, as the implant get epithelialized, where your own cells grow over it. I had mine a year ago, and it is barely noticeable. Be well

  • donna davis

    I am 51 years old and alittle over 2 years ago i had my aorta valve replaced with a cow valve, i have wondered about the heart pounding hard and espeacially when i try to lay on my left side,i cant not lay on left anymore,i also started having panic attacks witch sends me to the er,they are so awfull to go threw,it is like having a heart attack ,its hard to define the difference.I was a very ative woman untill the surgery and now i cant seem to do much at all,does all this get better?

  • rose filice

    I have the same thing- 5 m0nths after. My heart pounds when I lay on my side especially.
    My heart THUMPS against my chest whenever I am upright seated- u can see it and feel it. My chest did not heal together and have a 1 cm gap where bones do not meet/ DR is stumped…I think bone is thin and it makes the thumping against my chest more obvious. Another surgery could repair the gap but no guarantee on the noise. Surgeon says gap will diminish as cartilage fills .So I am hoping for THAT- because to face another surgery is==well. you know!
    He said my cow valve is unusually loud for tissue valve-maybe yours is as well? There is no cure for that and the anxiety is VERY real, not just a “comfort that my heart is beating ok.”
    Dr rxed an anti anxiety med.Cardiac anxiety has its own set of rules. ASK yours, it is no shame to need it, the pounding chronically can be quite maddening at times, the feeling that it is long term is even more frustrating. A long term anti anxiety med can help take the edge off of the constant noise “side effect”that accompanies our life now despite serious treatment. I am trying yoga and whatever might help. I hope you will investigate what alternatives there are and feel better!!!!

  • liza eden

    I left a message awhile ago. Since then I began having panic attacks that were so bad I found my self crying 99% of the time. I went to a therapist who put a call into my Dr. It was her decision that I needed medication. By now I was in constant panic mode. The pounding and the fear became so overwhelming. Have been on meds for a week and I feel human again. Is this going to be ongoing? There seem to be a high number of patients who are having the same experiences. I don’t want to be drug dependent, but I will if I have to. To feel the way I did 2 weeks ago is not an option.

  • sharon

    Hi every1.im 44yo female.ive had 3 heart ops in 10yrs.1st was to do bentalls procedure replace aortic valve n ascending aorta but surgeon didnt realise how tiny mine was so he decided to put patch on aorta n leave valve as is.6wks after surgery my valve collapsed due to the extra pressure from widening the aorta.i was very breathless n lethargic.i changed cardiologists and 16mnths later i got a tiny tissue valve which lasted 8yrs.unfortunatley it and aorta calcified to 6mm.last op i got a st judes mech valve and more widening of ascend aorta.im very disturbed by the clunking noise.i feel quite deaf sometimes and i have had some internal bleeding from warfarin.i also have total heart block wich happened 1wk after op so they put a pacemaker in .i works 100%of the time as my sinus nodes were damaged in surgery.i have a lot to get used to.everything is so much more complex than when i had tissue valve but hey im still alive.keep on smilin every1

  • Diane

    Hi guys, things look a little bleek now, but they will get better. try and stay calm and not think about it so much, it only makes things worst. at nite try running the fan or heater depending on the weather it helps to drown out the sound of the beats and gives you somethings else to focus on. this really helps me to sleep. REMEMBER TO REMAIN CALM GETTING UPSET ONLY MAKES IT WORST. after while you want notice it as much. hang in there God Bless

  • sharon

    I am so glad to have found this site.im in australia and havent had much luck with finding people with my condition .its comforting to no that im experiencing some similar effects of heart valve/aortic root post op symptoms.i cant remember a lot about the last two.i had some other weird things going on.i get a grey cloud like vision in my rite eye followed by a silver and black zigzag.then i notice my valve goes double beat miss a beat and so on.i lat down and it passes in about 20mins.other times.i feel nausious and get diahorrea at least 3nights a week(maybe warfarin side effect??).i was hoping to have energy after this op but my husband still does the grocerys,cooking and housework.if i do cleaning or anything just a bit strenuous im exhausted and have to go to bed for a few hours.i dont no if this is because i have pacemaker and mech valve and take warfarin but a lot of people seem to have lots of energy and even return to work after their ops.maybe im just a wreck after 3 surgeries.gee it feels good to vent my thoughts.hope every1 is doing ok

  • Pine Hill Gal

    In July of 2011 (9 months ago)I had a St. Jude Mechanical valve inserted to replace my Severely stenotic Aortic valve. Evidently I was born with a bicuspid Aortic valve that failed during my 49th year. I have had very few complications with this valve, and now feel GREAT! I have been completely restored to good health. Regarding any noise that may come from the heart valve, I do notice that if I become dehydrated, then I can “hear” the valve when it clicks. If I keep myself well hydrated (6-9 glasses of liquid per day) then I never hear the valve.
    Many heart patients are on other meds that may remove water for the purpose of lowering BP, so perhaps this is what is causing you to have hemoconcentration and may be causing the valve to click where you can hear it. I currently have normal BP and only take Warfarin. Perhaps that is why I can hydrate myself well and never hear any noise coming from the heart valve.

  • Robin

    I am 68 and had the aortic valve replaced 2 months ago with the “Miss Piggy” valve. I am so glad to find this posting. The pain I had was horrible. My breasts and chest hurt so bad, it felt like they were on fire. Once the pain went mostly away, I still can’t wear a bra, as the scar hurts. I have noticed for about a month now, this heart pounding. A big Thump.. that rocks my chest. Someone offered the idea that the heart is adjusting to having a working valve, and might be re-calibrating the amount of muscle to contract. that does sound logical to me. I feel for you all that have the panic attacks. I have been on anti depression medication for years, so hopefully that will ward off any attacks. I am continuing to take my blood pressure medications, and only a baby asprine as my doc.said I only needed the blood thinner for 6 weeks. Yeah.
    Because of your postings I have a better understanding of what all has happened to me. Slight memory loss, but huge skin changes. More wrinkles and old lady skin. But hey.. better than the alternatives.
    I also noticed a real plus, no more swollen tummy and ankles. I am looking forward to good years ahead. God Bless our doctors and the science community that has given us all a chance to live longer and better.

  • Dianne Wright

    Hi Adam:
    I had a mitral valve replacement (titanium) on 12-12-2011 at the Hillcrest Campus of the CCF. Dr. Marc Botham is just amazing there, super, super surgeon and individual. I told him about your book, he was looking it up on line to order as I left his office. If you have time you need to see the Hillcrest facility, new and very personable. Your book has been a mainstay for me, just looked up something last night after 4 months out. I’m still really tired and legs seem weak, patience is NOT one of my virtues. Wish I could be at CCF when you are there. Take care. Dianne

  • Tom

    I am sitting here almost 4 months after my surgery that repaired an aneurysm on the ascending aorta & replaced the valve reading the other postings and having a sense of relief. I woke up with the pounding going on, loud and pretty fast . I thought I had a bad dream but I couldn’t get the beat to slow down but I am encouraged to read these other messages because it felt weird.
    I have another question about the sternum healing. My chest is still sore to the touch. I have no signs of infection, no fever or swelling or redness but it is still sore. I had an echo scheduled but had to cancel as the technician presses pretty hard on the chest to get the best picture…in fact, it is how they found the aneurysm 6 months ago. How long is the sternum sore to the touch.

  • sharon

    Hi tom i am 12months post op and still have sternum tenderness when sneezing or uf i pick up something a little too heavy it certainly lets me know.i think after open heart surgery there will always be a degree of chest weakness just like if you have had a broken leg ,arm ect. Regards sharon

  • rose filice

    I would ask the Dr to take a look and be sure that your chest healed in good alignment.My Doctor was a little taken aback some 4 months later to find I have a sternal non-union now, it did not heal together and there is quite a bit of soreness when pressure is applied.I read over and over- full recovery is as long as a year. Yes we are GLAD to be alive but all roads are NOT smooth and easy ones. The pounding seems to be quite common and yes, the Dr. does NOT need a stethoscope to listen to my heart beat , but neither do I and I don’t find that a plus! You are in my prayer list among so many of us for patience and continued recovery and good heart health! God bless you!

  • Barb

    I had my aortic valve replaced almost 4 weeks ago. I also get the pounding heartbeat which moves my head when I am relaxing in a recliner or in bed. I am on Lopressor 25mg, taking 1/2 in am and other 1/2 after dinner. Dr says I may be on lopressor for the rest of my life. I don’t like taking it and wonder if others have been on it and have successfully been weaned off it. My heart rate will go up into the upper 80s and low 90s at times. Blood pressure is running around 110/75 now. Has anyone had problems with Lopressor?
    Barb

  • rose Marie Filice

    20 years ago i had an aortal dissection repair and began a lifelong association with Lopressor- about 25mg to start. This year I had to have an aortic valve replaced and an aortic root replaced. I had been on 100 mg Lopressor,now I am on 150mg. I kind of don’t remember life without it. It has it side effects, different for all- for me, it’s drowsy- a little dopey and leg circulation? But the pounding is indeed lessened by it to some degree and it slows your heart rate so you might get more mileage out of your new valve? THAT means a lot over 10 years or better? You have my deepest empathy for your recent surgery and recovery, it is not without side effects I am finding.May your recovery be blessed!

  • sharon

    Hi i have been on lopressor for 9yrs after getting a tissue valve i only had a small dose am and pm 1/2 a 50mg.last year i had my aortic valve replaced again and the ascending aorta.i also have a pacemaker.my heartbeat was irregular so i have been increased to 50mg twice daily.i dont seem to notice the skips and irregularities as much so i feel its working.however my side effects are cold feet,headache,nausea,diahorrea and im sooo tierdall the time.some days i have trouble concentrating and get moody for no reason.i dont no if my symptoms are from lopressor but they are more noticeable since ive been taking the higher dosage. I feel its a small price to pay .lifedoes gets better as the weeks pass.ive had 3 ops now so im a little impatient.hope your recovery is speedy and you feel better soon.i felt crappy for 4months but it all was worth it.

  • John Hartmann

    Yes! I am experiencing the pounding sensation right now at my desk. Also when sitting in my chair at home and lying in bed. I’m 55 and had bovine aortic valve replacement coupled with aortic aneurysm repair Aug 3rd 2011. I’m surprised it’s only now starting to bother me. I’d like to think it’s because I’m healing and therefore pumping better. It wakes me up at night and sometimes I feel very unsettled, like something bad is about to happen, but it never does. Reading all these reports has helped put me at ease about the pounding.

  • Tom

    It has been 6 months since my surgery for ascending aorta aneurysm & valve replacement. Most days I feel pretty good probably as good as I did before the surgery. I still am awakened by rapid, pounding heart rate. My cardiologist gave me a Zio monitor for 10 days which recorded 3 or 4 of these events. He was concerned about “a-fib” but the monitor recorded no problems. He saw the rapid pulse records and stated they were not related to my heart but possibly to a sleep problem such as apnea ( which I never have had) or to anxiety from post op dreams or concerns ……….I am not aware of any of these problems but was relieved to hear it wasn’t heart related…..I write this because it may applicable to others.

  • Barb

    I also had the pounding heart after aortic valve replacement with a bovine valve on 4/3/2012. Maybe I am just getting used to it now, but it is not as bad. I am pretty much doing all the things I did before, but my heart is still beating very fast. One day my resting heart rate was around 100 or just below all day. The next day it was downsome. I wore a holter monitor and was told I had normal sinus rhythm and my heart rate averaged 82 bpm. Most days I am near that or a little higher. My cardiologist tells me that it will take 6 months to 2 years for the heart to settle into its’ regular rhythm. Now I just don’t worry much about it and have gone on with doing what I want. I will keep an eye on the rate if I feel that it might be high, but otherwise I have my life back….I am doing cardiac rehab 2 days a week and playing 18 holes of golf another day. I’m generally not out of breath and feel good most days. I consider myself lucky and blessed….especially if it keeps up this way.

  • rose Marie Filice

    I had an aortic root replacement and tissue valve done Nov 17 and it has been UP and DOWN in recovery- I have a non-union of the sternum and that has it’s own set of thumping going on. I would agree it does take many months for the heart to “calm down” I do not have nearly so many rapid heart beating episodes as i did..Mine is better than 3 months ago and gosh I hope it will be BETTER 3 months from now too.May your recovery continue smoothly, one day at a time!! I say a prayer for ALL of us each day-

  • Phil

    I had my biscupid aortic valve replaced on August 15, 2012 with the St. Jude Trifecta valve. I also had the Epicor Maze procedure to prevent AFIB. I was already aware of my heartbeat prior to surgery and much more so now. The larger “thump” of my beat is after the main (ventricular) contraction. This is a new sensation since surgery. It seems to be timed with the valve closing. I’m sure this valve closes much more firmly than my natural valve did. With time, my heart beat has become less noticeable. My resting heart rate is much higher than before (~90), but I have been told by my doctors that this should come down with time. Best wishes to all.

  • Cara Angelina

    I am 29/F and I have had 3 open heart surgeries. My 1st was a valve repair because I have mitral valve prolapse. My heart felt normal after that surgery but my 2nd surgery was to prevent aortic dissection so they had to go in and wrap my aorta with a plastic substance to prevent it from getting any bigger and after that surgery my heart never felt the same. I now have a strong and hard pounding heart beat and I can feel it in my throat down to my stomach. When I breath in it pounds even harder and everyone who feels it is like “oh my gosh I cant believe its beating so hard!” Its very annoying, I cant over exert myself or else it gets worse. I take metoprolol medicine for it but that dosen’t always help. My third surgery was to have a blood clot removed from my aorta but my heart still pounds away… =/

  • Barb

    My surgery was last April and I did experience the loud and rapid heart rate after it. 10 months later, after also receiving a pacemaker and having a parathyroid operation, I am feeling like myself again. My heart rate is in the low 70s (normal for me) and I feel strong again. I was told it would take 6 months to 2 years for my heart to settle down. I think it has done so at this point. I returned to playing golf 3 months after the heart surgery. I do question whether I needed the pacemaker or whether the parathyroid tumor was the culprit, but I won’t know until I have several readings of the pacemaker to see its usage. Time will tell on that.

  • janet wayne

    I am glad I read all the comments about loud heart beats I have the same problem since I had open heart surgery.I was getting depressed from the loud beats .Now I feel better since its normal after surgery.
    Thank You.

  • Loretta

    Hi,
    I thought I already did this, but obviously it didn’t work. My son is in Jacksonville FL and is 31 years old. He had a stroke with headache and it saved his life. He had developed endocarditis and after 6 weeks of IV therapy had to have open heart surgery to repair his valve. Now he is experiencing rapid heart rhythm (up to 177 on occasion) and yesterday went to the ER and was admitted for tests. The cardiologist told him all is well and his heart is healing…his heart rate goes from 84 to 134 in the blink of an eye and he states that he can feel his heart thumping against his chest and his chest is tight. Does this happen to anyone else?? he is worried and scared and now so am I. Is this really normal? Does it happen to anyone else? Please, I am sending him this link to read this blog, think it might help him. Thanks.

  • Brian

    Loretta, while I am not a Dr., I had the same issue and it is somewhat common. In most all cases, after about 6-8 weeks the heart calms down and goes back to normal beat. I remember being scared half to death thinking I had some odd permananent damage. Without getting too technical, the scarring/healing process creates irritation all the way down to a molecular level that intermittently interrupts the electrical impulses of the heart and causes the heart to beat harder. My doctors NEVER explained this to me and as a result it caused me no end to my worry !!!!!

    This can manifest as skipped beats, rapid heart rate, irregular and rapid heart rate or all of the above, none of which are typically life threatening if treated properly with blood thinners or other anti-arrythmic meds. Mine began 3 hours after being discharged and I had off and on runs to the emergency room out of sheer panic (3 to be exact) during the next 6 weeks and each time they were less severe. Now I never have any issues other than occasional anxiety worrying if they will ever return someday unexpectedly (knock on wood).

  • Loretta

    Thank you Brian for your reply. It helps to know this is more common than uncommon. Since I live in NJ and he is in FL, it has been nerve wrecking worrying if it would happen again or be dangerous when it happened. He has seen the dr. and blood pressure medication was increased fo the duration of the healing process. I am very grateful that I found this website, it has helped ease a mother’s mind..:)

    Thanks again and I iam recommending this site to anyone who has these issues. I think you guys are wonderful and I have sent the link to my son recommending he read some of these questions and answers and help him deal with his own anxieties for post surgery and recovery.

  • Tom Foy

    My heart is racing & awakening me at night . my surgery was 16 months ago has anyone else experienced this issue so long after their open heart surgery….. a few weeks,I heard a pop lifting a 25 lb box over my head .I experienced no pain but since then I have had this heart racing at night and it goes along with elevated bp…..my heart rate is at 125 beats per minute ,blood pressure at 135/95 …both readings are much higher than my normal readings and this happens only while I sleep. It takes awhile for my heart to slow down but it doesn’t get back to normal for a long time……..

  • Jane

    Hi I had an AVR and aneurysm repair in June 2009. All of the symptoms I am reading I have also been through. My heartbeat seems most prominent when lying down if after having a shower. I still get some dizzy spells. Does anyone else have nerve damage in left arm post surgery?

  • Odi Belchevski

    I am 62 years old that was always healthy and strong.
    I have researched the Webb and talked to many people / doctors about my situation.
    After surgery my heart was beating normal except occasionally it will add extra beats or flutter.I was prescribed ‘amiodioran ‘ which made my situation worse I had to discontinue it.After about 2.5 months,the skipping/ adding beats and fluttering were gone.but I noticed that my heart was pounding very strong, like very loud ‘drums beating’ in my ears.(It will shake a telephone placed on my chest )
    I am a scientist / physics and have tried to figure out what was happening as my cardiologist did not have a clear answer.
    I have reasoned the following situation / reasons:

    1. My native valve was replaced with a tissue animal valve with a diameter of 25 mm.
    My opening at the base of the aorta/ valve was originally measured at 28 mm ( in a stenosis- tight state)I thought it is possible that in order to provide sufficient blood to my arteries it was beating harder like a ‘pump’ with extra demand.

    Now it is 6 months since surgery.The situation has improved a little

    2.The base / root of my aorta was removed ( although I was told that it was strong and in good shape.This may have disturbed my ‘natural built’ of this part and there is no muffling of the sound.However over time the body will naturally grow back some tissue and will try to normalize.

    3. Fungus / bacteria/ etc increase- overgrowth in the blood with sticks to the prosthetic valve( which is a simply dried piece of skin that cannot ‘defend’ itself ,making it narrow and causing the heart to beat much stronger in order to push enough blood out.
    This is my biggest concern now.Many heart operated patients ,due to antibiotics and other strong medications get overgrowth of fungi etc like various Candida, causing a mild periocarditis that comes and goes.Most of the Doctors are not trained to detect / test or diagnose this situations,and tend to go ‘around’ the problem.
    I do have indications of Candida overgrowth,and I am trying to get my doctors involved. I should have more energy now that before ,but I do not .Manny times now I feel very tired and crave for sweets all the time.It is difficult to prove the Candida overgrowth in the blood because the Candida is ‘smart’.
    It becomes resistant to many drugs it mutates and/or’ hides’ releases ‘eggs’-spores that are very hard to ‘kill’ – eliminate etc.The various candida can even ‘release’ a form of insulin that affects the blood sugar,causing more craving for sugar and various sweet pastries etc.

    I have not given up yet.
    Odi

  • Tom

    It has been 11/2 years since my surgery for a bicuspid aortic valve and a aneurysm on the descending aorta artery. Heart pounding still occurs but less frequently. I have a heart monitor for this and what I would describe as rapid heart rate .The cardiologist told me after reading the results that the events were caused by a tachiocardia ( sp) & were benign …..these events have diminished. My valve from St Jude’s is bovine/synthetic ……..hang in there…………………

  • Dan

    Hi Everyone. This is my 3rd surgery and I am exactly four weeks out. This time, I had an aortic root aneurysm replacement with dacron and AVR with and EC pericardial valve. The surgeon also had to use some extra dacron to lengthen some short cardiac arteries.The previous surgery five years ago was a AVR after the Ross procedure failed. And obviously, the first procedure was the Ross procedure 17 years ago.

    I’ve found that for me, every surgery has its own distinguishing characteristic. For example, my first, the Ross, resulted in vocal cord paralysis for six weeks! The second resulted in a diaphragm paralysis for a couple of weeks that resulted in accessory muscle breathing. This time around, it was a short bout of night sweats and cold sweats. But the biggest issue so far, which was the one that brought me to this site, was the extra strong heart beats. They subside if I breath out or if I don’t take very deep breaths. They are better if I lie flat. My cardiologist says it can be a result of my pericardium being inflamed from the multiple surgeries and not yet able to buffer the beating. I will see the surgeon in a week. Over the phone, he says it can be a number of things: the dacron graft can be transmitting the beat in a more pronounced way. He says he can’t be more sure until he examines me next week. He’s the only doctor out of the three that I spoke to who has given the possibility that this strong beating sensation may never go away. I’ll update this post after my appointment with the surgeon.

  • Elizabeth J

    I am almost three months out from open heart surgery to remove a benign tumor inside my left atrium (myxoma), minimally invasive. I have found this site because I experience the same heart pounding at night, especially on my left side. The strange thing is, my only symptom before I was diagnosed with the Myxoma was this throbbing in my neck and chest night. I knew there was something wrong with me, and I felt like I was going to die in the middle of the night. So once I was diagnosed with the tumor, I was confident that the symptoms were related. I was hoping that once it was removed the throbbing would go away, but recently it has actually has gotten worse. The Cardiologist said my heart is fine. But now I’m experiencing flutters during the day. I will probably go back to the cardiologist if it doesn’t get better. I have noticed a connection with dehydration making it worse. This site has really made me feel better and not to worry so much, knowing that it’s so common. I’m still confused as to what causes the pounding, since I had it prior to surgery. But at least it doesn’t sound serious, After reading all the posts on the site.

  • Tom

    The heart pounding experience has declined over the 18 months since my surgery,hasn’t quite gone away. When I mentioned this experience to my cardiologist a few months after the surgery ( an aneurysm on the descending root of the aorta & a valve replacement) he said that your heart is a muscle & it will take time to heal…..made sense to me .

  • jerry

    yes-same here. the pounding is driving me crazy. only 6 months ago and swelling in my upper chest. anybody know a good lawyer? only 53 and not the same person.

Upcoming Surgeries

The Patient's Guide (7th Revised Edition)

Did you know that over 50,000 patients relied on this 204-page book before heart valve surgery?

» Learn more

Heart Valve Hospitals (Click a logo)

Have A Question? Call Us at (888) 725-4311

HeartValveSurgery.com
2117 Huntington Lane, Unit A
Redondo Beach, CA 90278
Phone: (888) 725-4311