"High Heart Rate After Heart Surgery?" Asks Pete

I just received a great question from Pete about high heart rates after open heart surgery.

Pete writes, “Hi Adam, I had an aortic valve replacement procedure on April 8, 2009, about two months ago. My main concern is that my heart rate is running quite high at 80 to 90 beats per minute. Before surgery, my heart rate was around 60. I contacted my cardiologist about this three times. Each time, they tell me this is one of the side effects from surgery and it should diminish over time. Quite frankly, I am concerned my heart is going to wear out. Any thoughts? Thanks, Pete”

High Heart Rate

Without a doubt, Pete raises a very valid concern of patients about a high heart rate after heart surgery.

So you know, I experienced something very similar to Pete after my open heart surgery. I have always had a high heart rate – about 80 beats per minute (bpm). However, after surgery, my resting heart rate was about 10 bpm higher. Sure enough, like Pete, I called and asked my doctor whether-or-not this was something to be concerned about.

Guess what? My cardiologist suggested that a high heart rate after open heart surgery was “normal”. Sure enough, my heart rate did normalize during my recovery. In fact, I just located a reference on Medhelp which states, “It is not at all uncommon to have rapid heart rates after heart surgery.ย ย For example, atrial fibrillation and atrial flutter are very common, as well.”

In some patient cases, however, I have learned that certain drugs (e.g. Metoprolol, Cordarone) may be used to help slow heart rates following surgery. That said, if you are experiencing a high heart rate after surgery, I would encourage you to contact your cardiologist to confirm that your situation is not unique.

Remember… Always safe, not sorry!!!

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.

  • LouFilliger

    Hi all, very useful comments throughout, thanks everyone for taking the time to post here. I am one month out from aortic valve replacement (“maximally intrusive”) and have been concerned that my resting heart rate is still in the upper 70’s sometimes (was upper 50’s pre-surgery). Reading the posts here made me realize that I am pressing myself a bit fast to get back to normal. Have already done a couple of 10 mile hikes and started lifting light weights (10-15 lbs) which they told me not to do. In short, I need to give it another few weeks at least. BTW I am 57 and it is fairly difficult to get apples-to-apples comparisons of how much cardio is good at this point. I feel like I’m “out in the wild blue yonder” on this. Oh well, I am rambling – thanks again.

  • Hamid

    1 month ago my mom had bypass heart surgery MVR by using 29 mm ATS valve + Tricuspid valve rearing by using MC3 ring 30 mm through sternotomy. After operation her heart palpitation has increased to 150. is it something to be worried?

  • Artifex Alliances

    My brother has a heart sugery recently and recovering in hospital. His heart beat is faster and he develops fever 38 fh please advise.

  • Susan M

    Jean can you please tell me more about the acupuncture? My husband is 10 weeks post op and is dealing with high heart rate. I hate all the medications especially amiodarone. I do believe we should incorporate more natural ways to heal our bodies. Of course there is no natural replacement for surgery and many times medications save our lifes but I’m beginning to feel like my husband needs another route to healing. Hope to hear from you soon. Susan M.

  • Susan M

    Jean I am very interested in a more natural approach to lowering heart rate. My husband has had an aortic valve replacement and his blood pressure is low but his heart rate is 90-125. I don’t want to see him on medication all his life and hoping to find some alternative solutions. Hope you see this and reply. I realize its been 3 years since you posted. Susan M

  • pookieamos

    Don’t know if you’ll respond but it helps “talking”…….I am 49 and recently found that I needed a triple bypass. My blood pressure and heart rate have always been great. Prior to surgery they were both good. Following surgery my heart has been running 109 to 124 resting. They put me on Metropol , then my heart was high and my blood pressure continued to test very low , sometimes 77/ 54 , in that low area. Then they began adjusting meds , giving me saline because of low pressure. In 5 days I have retained nearly 15 pounds of fluid , blood pressure is around 115/70 while heart is still having high beats. These jokers are talking about sending me home on 100 mg of Metropol and at 50 my pressure went screwy. I am a very high energetic person who has no desire to pick up a cigarette EVER , who has lost a lot of weight and is fighting to keep TYPEII Diabtetes under control. Now of course I am BEYOND UPSET and trying to read others posts. Thanks for listening….

  • Jim French

    try different bp med, my wife went through 2 open hearts in 4 mos., the B.P. Med they put her on caused her to be sick and lethargic,,, You have to Be Your own Advocate Push for Answers and if not Happy with Answers Find another Doctor ! Your Life Depends on It ! Good Luck

  • Kinley Wangchuk

    I have a son who went open heart PM vsd closing surgery and I noticed that his heart rate is quite high than before about 110 per min. I would b glad if anyone can help me explain this whether such thing is normal or something is wrong.

  • Nadia

    Hello hamid! I had AVR AND REPLECEMENT of the aorta a few inches at the Cleveland clinic by a super special Doctor.
    Your mum seems to have had a lot more!
    Each case differs, but it is common initially as far as I know to have a very hightvโฃRate like your mum. I had a similar experience. BUT my nurse practicioner increased and monitored my metroprolol to bring it down to Umer hundred- 80/90s. Before releasing me. Then as the new valve is getting used to beating and takes time to adjusts there can be ups and downs- but I think it’s important to be in touch with the doc so they can calibrate the meds to keep the rear at bay. My doctor said imp to keep the BP AND pulse at bay and use the Med to keep it that way so the heart is helped to beat regular and helps it to stabilize.

    Then after some month can be 6 many more or less they can adjust down the meds if needed. The doc recognizes the symptoms when your heart needs less. My doc said I prob should need the Med and adoring fir life to be safe. Nurse practitioner thought in 6-12 months I could be if them if my heart and no good.

    So just depends on diff docs- the approach but I know though shouldn’t worry if init all few months but to maintain 150 if high generally but then in your mums case may be ok bcos she had so many things. I’m not a doctor but you have to go to ther BEST most experienced one you know and quiz him and ask him how to lower it.
    Regular walks and exercise- cardiac rehab helps ALOT!
    I noticed afterwards my numbers come down! Whe. I did cardiac rehab befor and after numbers- everything w a noticeable decrease in pulse and BP.
    Meds is only HALF the story and WALKS DAILY and exercise 3-4 times seek the MOST imp to condition the heart and HELP IT!! Stabilize and adjust.

    Hope this help you and all who read it.

  • Neesh

    Hi can somone possibly help
    Has anyone with normal bp before and after surgery found their bp is now higher few months after surgery?

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