Email Bag: Heart Rate After Heart Valve Surgery?

By Adam Pick on May 10, 2007

I recently received a question from Roger Sudbeck about heart rates after heart valve surgery. Roger recently had open heart, valve surgery and noticed that his heart rate was still elevated several weeks following his procedure. FYI, Roger had aortic valve replacement in Lincoln, Nebraska by Dr. Ed Raines.

 

 

Here is Roger’s question

I want to know if you experienced an elevated heart rate post op. I am sure you have seen my posts indicating that I am running higher than pre op normal which was about 60. Now it seems I am running at about 80 to 90 which feels strange. I am just curious if you experience that as well and if so, how long did it take to come down? Also, did Dr. Starnes have you on BP med post op or a Beta blocker?

 

Here is my response

Thanks Rog. And, it’s a great set of question about heart rates following heart valve surgeries – repairs and replacements for mitral valves, aortic valves, pulmonary valve, and tricuspids. FYI, my heart rate has always been high but, like you, it spiked considerably following my aortic valve replacement.

However, it has come down a decent amount since the surgery. So, be assured that what you are experiencing is normal. No need to get worried. While I do not have any scientific data to share with you. I have spoke with several patients about this. In fact, in the new printing of my book, there is a survey of 75 former patients about many issues of the heart valve surgery process – from diagnosis through recovery. The survey results are fascinating.

That said, it’s interesting to watch the heart rate decline, over time, both at rest and during exercise.

Actually, it’s amazing to watch. I monitor my heart rate primarily when I’m riding the bike. (I think it would quite hard to do when I’m surfing…)

When I started cardiac rehab, my heart rate would rocket to 160 at the slightest increase in tension on the wheel. The nurses at Torrance Memorial Cardiac Rehab were very sensitive about not pushing the heart too quickly following my Ross Procedure. Now, however, I’m fifteen months post-op and I’m peddling away at level 11 with my heart rate hovering just over 170. I even pushed it the other day and got above 180.

I guess my point is your brain and body are still coming together, still integrating, still healing. In time, I believe you will see a drop.

Plus, I think you are only post-op 40 days or so, right? Give it some time.

So you know, although I considered my physical recovery complete when I surfed in February, I still have a tough day here and a tough day there.

I still listen to my heart with a stethescope every once in a while. Maybe I’m crazy. Or, maybe I’m still mentally healing from open heart surgery.

I hope that helps.

Keep on tickin!
Adam


Written by Adam Pick
- Patient & Website Founder

Adam Pick is a heart valve patient and author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery. In 2006, Adam founded HeartValveSurgery.com to educate and empower patients. This award-winning website has helped over 10 million people fight heart valve disease. Adam has been featured by the American Heart Association and Medical News Today.

Adam Pick is a heart valve patient and author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery. In 2006, Adam founded HeartValveSurgery.com to educate and empower patients. This award-winning website has helped over 10 million people fight heart valve disease. Adam has been featured by the American Heart Association and Medical News Today.


Paula Pullen says on August 10th, 2011 at 5:31 am

I am 2 weeks post MV repair due to endocarditis. Since my I am fairly athletic and my pre-surgery resting HR was ~ 52-58, I became a bit concerned as I am now ~100 at rest. This article helped to reassure me that this is a usual post surgery phenomenon. I now have a pulse monitor on and will monitor the changes, as time goes by.

Regards,

Paula



Tim says on August 22nd, 2011 at 6:24 pm

I am 7 months post MV repair. During a unrelated doctor’s appointment last week, my heart rate was 93 bpm. Admittedly, I’m not as active as I was pre-surgery, but I’m beginning to wonder if it will ever come down. Perhaps with a bit more exercise and less stress at work! 🙂

Best regards,
Tim



Vlad Berg says on March 9th, 2012 at 12:27 pm

Dear folks,

I had my aortic valve surgery 14 months ago. Also I got a pacemaker. My usual heart rate before the surgery was 60bpm. Initially the pacemaker was adjusted at 70 bpm; and my heart rate was ~ 80-90 (I am over 70 years old);Three months after surgery I asked to adjust the pace maker to 60,and everything was OK. During rest my heart rate was close to 60. However recently, trying to keep my ” natural” heart rate, I asked doctor to adjust the pacemaker to 55 bmp, and after (I wonder was it because of) I had artrial fibrillations for a day. So the pacemaker was again readjusted to 70 bmp. I wonder, is there an optimum indvidual rate of a pacemaker?



Bryan says on May 10th, 2012 at 7:12 pm

I am 3 weeks post robotic MV repair for severe MVP (valve disease and endocarditis). My resting heart rate before surgery was 60 to 65. Immediately after surgery I had one espisode of Afib, but converted back on my own. I am walking 2.5 to 5 miles daily. With 25mg of Lopressor / metaprolol twice daily my resting heart rate is 80 to 85. On the day I accidentaly skipped a dose of the metaprolol my pulse rate went up to 90. I realize it has only been 3 weeks, but I look forward to my pulse rate getting closer to the old normal.



Hargus Stidham says on April 10th, 2014 at 7:30 am

Adam thank you for your blog
My pulse one week after Aortic valve replacement surgery is running 80 to 96 and prior to surgery it was running mid 60’s, I am 71
glad to see this is more common than not


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