How Long Until Patients Regain Consciousness After Open Heart Surgery?

By Adam Pick on September 12, 2008

I just clicked on an email from Esther that reads, “Hi Adam – How long does it take for patients to regain consciousness after open heart surgery? I am preparing for the replacement of my mitral valve due to my worn out and prolapsed mitral valve. I’m just curious to know how long I’ll be unconscious, under general anesthesia. Thanks. Esther.”

From my own experience, I can share with you that I went under general anesthesia at 11am – once I was brought into the operating room. According to Robyn, my wife, my open heart surgery was 3 hours long. After surgery, I was rolled into the intensive care unit (ICU) where I was actively monitored by an ICU nurse for the next several hours.

 

 

Then, around 5:30pm, I SLOOOOOOWLY (emphasis added) began to regain consciousness. At first, I only heard noises. Next, my eyes began to open slightly and close slightly. The epic moment, when I knew I had fully regained consciousness was when the very uncomfortable ventilator tube was removed from my dry throat.

So, given the above, it took me about 6.5 hours to regain consciousness after open heart surgery. However, please know that each patient case is unique. There are many variables which could impact surgery length (e.g. heart surgery complications) and the time that a patient is unconscious.

I hope that helps explains how long it takes for a patient to regain consciousness after heart surgery.

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.


Leslie says on September 13th, 2008 at 12:53 am

Hi Adam, it’s your fan Leslie again … I had mitral valve repair and I went into surgery at 10 AM, came out of surgery about 6 PM (yes I was in there that long because it took nearly 2 hours just to prep me and I had the Da Vinci robot, which takes longer, and my surgery was more complicated than they expected plus they found a hole in my heart which they repaired_ whew)….anyway, I do not remember a single thing until 11:30 pm . But when I woke up I really woke up, I looked up at the clock first thing, saw the time, tried to say something and noticed I had this big ole ventilator in the way. The next hour was spent slowly being weaned from the oxygen in the tube and proving I could breathe well on my own and at 12:30 am out came the ventilator, yay! And I felt pretty darned good for what I went through.



Gail Ginsburg says on September 17th, 2008 at 12:17 pm

My husband had an aortic valve replacement and mitral valve repair. Surgery took about 2 hours once they went on the heart lung machine and another hour to close. He was in intensive care less than an hour before the breathing tube was removed. I came back 2 hours later and he was wide awake and fully with it. He was talking non stop. He stayed that way all night. None of the other patients woke up that fast……it’s an individual thing for sure.



Desiree says on April 15th, 2009 at 9:09 pm

A friend of mine, online mind you, had a hole in her heart repaired and went in one morning and was about by lunch. Is this possible?



JANE NAY says on March 19th, 2010 at 3:10 am

Hi, i had OHS just over a year ago, my op lasted 6 hours, i was finally taken to ICU at 5pm, my hubby came to see me coulpe of hours later, i was on a ventilater complete out of it, he stayed a an hour with me then went home. At 10pm that night i phoned home i cannot remember doing so, my son answered the phone as i have been told and my hubby asked who it was my son said its mum, my hubby said dont be daft i have just seen her in the hospital she was on a ventilater and the hospital said i would stay on it for about 12 hours, he took the phone off my son, and i said hi, its me im fine, have you had something to eat, then said im tired . love you, bye, after that i dont remember anything till i was moved onto the ward 3 days later, perhaps thats good that i dont.



Ashik Anwar says on September 14th, 2011 at 4:17 am

my dad just had a mitral valve replacement surgery yesterday, the operation involved some complications such as calcification of the valve and blood vessel. his surgery took quiet sometime and ended around 3:30PM yesterday, till now (23 hours later) he is unconscious and we are worried, I am searching on the internet for clues since the doctor said it is something to be worried and they are trying. he is on ventilator and support. his blood pressure and heart rate is normal (however with support). this is certainly not normal ? but do you all know of cases of survival even after this ?



INHAM LUTFI says on March 3rd, 2012 at 11:41 am

my dad just had a bypass surgery last monday almost 6 days, the operation involved bypass with plastic tube. his surgery took quiet sometime and ended and doctor advised again to remove one leg and we accepted to remove it. but still he his unconcious and we are woried. Today today advised us may be they have to go for brain scan and do the operation in brain. he is unconscious and we are worried, I am searching on the internet for clues since the doctor said it is something to be worried and they are trying. he is on ventilator and support. his blood pressure and heart rate is up and down also he got some fever upto 105. this is certainly not normal ? but do you all know of cases of survival even after this ?



Jason says on March 7th, 2014 at 10:45 am

I have a friend that had a triple bypass and is now on conscious over 48 hours is this normal



Gunjan says on December 8th, 2014 at 8:07 pm

My uncle had a heart valve replacement sergory and he is still unconscious since last 5 days. He is on ventilator and we are worried. His heart pumping is still below than average, doctors are saying just wait and watch because until he wake up or come conscious they can’t say or do anything.but does anyone knows what are the Chances of survival after this? How long maximum a person can remain unconscious after these kind of surgery?



nishant says on July 27th, 2015 at 1:21 pm

My mother age 70 yr ,operated for aortic valve replacement &operation end at 1 p.m. &doctor said she become concious at 8 pm but yet at 11pm he told that she became concious in morning



vikas says on October 13th, 2015 at 1:38 am

how is your dad now?



Lily says on April 19th, 2016 at 7:07 am

My brother had double bypass surgery yesterday at noon, the doctors chose to keep him on a ventilator for 24 hours or longer, it’s an especial reason for this, should I be more worry than normal???



Çağatay Belgen says on April 19th, 2016 at 3:33 pm

Can you please share what had happened afterwards? finally how long did it take him to wake up? I hope you notice this message quickly.



Çağatay Belgen says on April 19th, 2016 at 3:35 pm

Please guys, share what happened afterwards. How is he now? How long did it eventually take him to wake up?



Prasad Joshi says on June 18th, 2016 at 10:04 am

Hi , can you pls update about the situation afterwards what happened ???



Christina says on June 3rd, 2017 at 3:23 pm

Please Help! My sister had surgery 2days ago and she isn’t waking up! They are transferring her to the university hospital now because she is not progressing. I’m so worried and about 700 miles away. Anyone have a similar experience they can share???



narsingrao racharla says on June 25th, 2017 at 12:48 pm

When did he come in to consciousness?



Wânia Matos says on August 29th, 2017 at 9:39 pm

Please could you tell me if it is abnormal for a patient to not
regain consciousness for over 24 hours after open heart surgery? I know the doctors may keep patients sedated for an extended period of time after surgery depending on their situation. Thank you.



Rhandz Santocildes says on June 30th, 2018 at 11:07 am

Waking up or regaining consciousness after heart surgery is a good sign that the patient is recovering?


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