Vertigo, Headaches & Vision Problems After Heart Valve Surgery… Can You Help Mandy?

I just received a very interesting email from Mandy about heart valve surgery, vertigo, headaches and vision complications after heart surgery. As you can read below, Mandy is asking for all of our help.

Mandy With Her Two Children

Mandy writes to me, “Hi Adam, I had valve replacement on September 16, 2009. I am 34 years old. I am doing really well but I am having some vision disturbances and periods of vertigo. At first it was just vision disturbances and I wrote it off as ocular headaches. Then, I started having difficulty walking straight with these vision disturbances. I looked on-line and found transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) as a possible cause. I do not take Coumadin anymore because I have a bovine valve. My question is… Did you or any of your readers have similar experiences and if so what has been done? Thanks! Mandy”

While I do seem to have more headaches after my aortic valve replacement, I did not experience vertigo or vision loss during my recovery. However, I have met several patients that experience similar issues during their recovery.

In fact, I just received an email from Geoff Beale who writes, “I had a mitral valve repair done May 6th, 2008. Starting that week I had blurred vision from time-to-time that would trigger a headache.”

Geoff Beale – Having Vision Problems After Surgery

To further understand these post-operative complications, I just did some quick Internet research. Unfortunately, I did not find any clinical reports which connect heart valve surgery to vertigo or vision problems. That said, I will send off an email to one of my contacts at The Cleveland Clinic to see what he thinks.

In the meantime… Perhaps you can help Mandy and Geoff? Did you experience vertigo, headaches or vision disturbances after heart valve surgery?

To leave a comment, simply click here. In advance, thanks for your help. Or, scroll below for over 100 patient comments.

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

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  • Mary Zeiger

    I had HVR (St. Jude Valve) 5 years ago and had no complications until a month ago when I developed a headache on the left side. It has not done away and the CT Scan & MRI showed nothing. They are getting worse. Has anyone experienced headaches long after surgery. My doctor is hesitant to give me narcotic due to being on Coumadin. I hope I do not have to live like this.

  • debbie

    snap this is exactly the same as m me…right eye…like something blocking most of my lens…get dizzy spells…numbness in my fingers…surgeon not interestrd. i had a ten hour op…mech valve, root and hemi arch replacement…my breathing still does not feel right a year on. I have been referred to eye doc..stroke tean etc…nothing…nwver had these problems before.

  • ElcyIL

    Warfarin gave me twice a day aural migraines and severe vertigo (among a host of other symptoms), so you cannot rule that out.

  • Gary Stripling

    I’m a 56 yr old male. Seven weeks ago (8.21.15) I had open heart surgery to repair my mitral valve, close patent foramen ovale (PFO), and a septal resection to correct LVOT Obstruction. During the surgery the atrial lead from my pacemaker became dislodged and 3 days later I had more surgery to insert a new lead. I start cardiac rehab next week. My main issue is rather embarrassing: my butt is numb! There’s a 4″ horizontal swath across the upper part of my buttocks that is numb. I asked the surgeon about this and, after he laughed, he blamed it on my sitting in a chair too long while in ICU. Surely this will go away, right?

  • Mary Andrau Feldmeir

    I can’t believe how similar these scenarios are! So far, checked my eyes with my opthamologist and everything is fine. Will be seeing my cardiologist tomorrow to hopefully get some information. Will definitely share anything helpful with this group!

  • Kenny S

    Guys, I had an aortic valve replacement (Bovine) and had the ascending aortic aneurysm addressed as well late Sept 2015. The end of the first week home from the hospital I was watching TV and for about 10 seconds, my vision got all jumbled up and I felt dizzy. Vision then returned to normal. Now, seven weeks out from surgery, I was driving home at night and the same thing occurred but this time it lasted about 20 seconds, cleared up then came back for about 10 more seconds. Very scary stuff. My wife took be straight to the ER where they did blood test and did a head CAT scan and all came back normal. It looks, from reading the posts here that vision issue are not unusual after heart surgery. I’m seeing my cardiologist tomorrow so hopefully he can give me more info.

  • puglianana

    I wish all these doctors would listen to the patients complaints and quit passing it off like it is our imagination. My AV replacement was 6/2/2015 and the side effects are like most posted. dizzy, eye malfunction/disturbances, headaches (which before surgery, very seldom had). Isn’t there anyone out there doing research on the replacement valves and the symptoms we all seem to be having?

  • Cindy Truscott

    I am a 58yo female who had a mitral valve repair 9/2/15. Now 5 months out, vague symptoms continue; ocular migraines leading to headaches for up to several hours, vertigo, sudden general weakness, visual “floaters”, surges of nausea, crippling muscle cramps. My surgeon, cardiologist, and primary all shrug it off. I am a nurse and have asked everyone I come across at work if anyone can shed light on this- no answers. I am off of all meds, This is so frustrating. Obviously there is a common cause. My assumption is that they are TIA’s of sorts. Any thoughts????

  • Kinley Wangchuk

    My 5 year old son had a VSD closing heart surgery recently. After the surgery he kept complaining about his right eye side vision disturbances and headache. M really worried about his eye. Is it normal side effect after the surgery or its a complication that cannot be recovered. Pls help me explain with the above situation.

  • Eileen

    I had avr and 2 x bypass 05/20/15. As soon as they had ne up walking I was staggering, couldn’t walk straight, just thought it was weakness from surgery. Following week was at rehab facility and they would walk behind me saying my balance was off but never did anymore to look into it. Gradually it got better but then around 9 months out my blood pressure went high and stayed there and my vision was like I was seeing shadows of ceiling fans off to the side of both eyes and when I closed my eyes it was circles of flashing lights. Went to the ER 2 weekends in a row, the 2nd time they did cat scan but found nothing. Went to opthalmologist and he found nothing. It happens 4 or 5 times a week and sometimes 2 or 3 times a day/night, lasts 20/30 minutes. Also around the 9 month time the cardiologist took me off Plavix and upped aspirin from 81 mgs to 325 mgs. Last week saw the surgeon and he has put me back on the Plavix and back to aspirin 81 mgs. Said it may be teeny tiny blood clots. I have only been on the Plavix again for 3 days but I do think it is much improved. Surgeon said even at the 1 year mark it is not unheard of.

  • Have a close friend who had his mitral valve repaired about 3 weeks ago. A couple of days ago, his vision went blurry in both eyes, and one lost vision completely for a few seconds.
    Last night, he had another episode and called 911.

  • Navdeep singh

    My mom had a same problem, she had a openheart surgery for value replace in April 2016,now she had a left side headache,,Did u find any siliution ????

  • Navdeep singh

    Same things happen with my mom ,, she had a openheart surgery in April 2016 , after 20 days she lost her eye sight for a few second , and now after 2 months she had a bad left side headache,, ??

  • Kenneth Larkin

    I had the root of my aortic valve replaced June 2016(38 yrs old).Since then i’ve been having prismatic floaters in my eyes. They come and go throughout the day. Some are stronger than others. I first thought it was some kind of afterglow from anesthesia but it never went away.

  • Lawrence Street

    I had aortic valve replaced and double by-pass on 1-6-14, I went into a coma for 7 days. When I woke up I had lost about 28 pounds and could not stand up. I have had miagraines since I was 10 years old and had them about 4 per year, when I woke up from the coma I started having migraine’s in the hospital. I was having about 4 a week when I left the hospital and could not stand up by myself. I have seen 2 different doctors for miagraines and still have about 8 a month. I have aura all during the month and they all don’t turn into miagraines although when you see the aura it makes you nauseous. Right now I take 2 gabapentins in the morning and 3 at night, 2 oxcarbazepines in morning and 2 at night, duloxetine in morning and night, magnesium and B- complex in morning and night. I take meds for high blood and cholesterol. I had surgery on disc’s in my neck and still have miagraines. I am at a stand still and don”t know what to do, my wife doesn’t support me because she does not believe I could have that many headaches. Does anyone have any suggestions??

  • Carol Navin

    I had the same surgery on nov 13,2015.. I too have visual disturbances (14 months post op).Its both comforting and disappointing to see how many similar side effects we have in common. I still have vertigo, and jumbled vision. My follow up physicals with regular dr, cardiologist are normal. I do have consistent pain in my chest, from my wires i think. I wish i could be sure thats whats happening.

  • Carol Navin

    It seems many of us have these vertigo and jumbled strange vision symptoms. why dont the drs seem to pick up on this.? Seems surgically related.

  • Carol Navin

    You are so right joan, hope you are better.. Heart/lung machine.. had not thought of that.. Look how many of us experience these same symptoms and how many times the drs say they dont think these things are related. or they never heard abou the symptoms

  • Pat

    I had my aorta valve replaced with a tissue valve 16 months ago. After the surgery I had migraines daily for about 30 days. I still get them about once a month. But my main problem is my vision. I have shadows and floaters constantly, as well as terrible blurring and eye strain. the noise in my ears is a continual screaming, never stops. The headaches are constant. No one ever said anything about these side affects. I thought I was going crazy but now I see that I’m not alone. Set for a catscan next week.

  • Mike Lints

    I’m convinced that metoprolol contributed to my post-surgical symptoms. I had a mitral valve repair 4 months ago, and noticed vision symptoms (squiggly aura mostly in peripheral vision) while still in the hospital immediately following my first dose of metoprolol. I also had occasional bouts of light-headedness/dizziness, but thankfully no headaches.

    The dizziness ended and the vision symptoms became much less frequent and noticeable after I cut back on the dosage of metoprolol a month or so after the surgery; the vision continued to improve as the dosage was further reduced. I stopped taking metaprolol about 10 days ago. I had a brief, mild bout of the vision symptoms a few days later, so there’s probably something other than metaprolol involved, but I’m sure that whatever causes these symptoms was being aggravated by the beta blocker.

  • jane

    I’ve just, this month, had mitral valve replacement and tricuspid valve repair. Had to have electric shock to try to stabilise heart rate and also a pacemaker. I am now walking around, doing light exercise to get going [I’m 70] but feel so tired. I have a sort of double vision but also vertigo, no headache and feel quite nauseous at times. The anti-sickness tabs prescribed by hospital were actually making me feel sick! so changed by my GP. I now take various meds including blood thinner, flutter tabs, diuretic, stomach protector and a beta blocker all until I have my 6 week check up, then we’ll see. This double vision is very scary but a couple of minutes sitting with eyes closed seems to help. Also there is a bit of numbness around my lips sometimes, but I just chomp my teeth against them, much as you would rub numb fingers together!
    Hope you are all right by now as I realise this is very late after your post. I hope to be back to ‘ME’ very soon.

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