“How Long Will I Be In The Hospital?” Asks Wayne

Written By: Adam Pick, Patient Advocate, Author & Website Founder
Page last updated: November 7, 2023

I just received a great question from Wayne. He writes, “Adam – I’ve been following Barbara Bush’s heart valve surgery. Mostly because, at the ripe age of 62, I’ll be having my mitral valve replaced due to severe regurgitation from prolapse (To learn more about prolapsed mitral valves, click here.). I think Barbara was in the hospital for 9 days. Is it common for valve patients to be in the hospital for that long? Thanks for all that you do! Wayne”

There are really two answers to this question. The first answer I’ll provide is based on patient data I collected during a survey. In that survey, I asked over 75 former patients the question, “How long were you in the hospital?” As you can see on the chart below, the average response was five days. (So, that is considerably shorter than Barbara Bush’s stay at Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas.)


Patient Days In Hospital Following Valve Surgery


The second answer I’ll provide to Wayne’s question is less statistical and much more general. That answer is ‘it depends’. As I have learned over the years, every patient case is unique. In some situations, I know patients that have left the hospital after three days. In other cases, due to heart surgery complications, I know patients who stayed in the hospital for more than two weeks.

I hope that helps Wayne (and perhaps you) better understand how long heart surgery patients stay in the hospital.

Also, as many visitors to this blog are former patients… I’m really curious to know what you experienced. If you have an answer to the question, “How long were you in the hospital after valve surgery?”, please leave a comment below.

Keep on tickin!

Written by Adam Pick
- Patient & Website Founder

Adam Pick, Heart Valve Patient Advocate

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.

Barbara Johnson says on March 16th, 2009 at 9:17 am

Thanks for the Barbara Bush follow-up; I’ve seen nothing in the newspaper or on-line news either. What is happening with Robin Williams?

Richard Holoubek says on March 16th, 2009 at 4:09 pm

I was released after 5 days. They wanted me to leave after 4 but we got hit with a snow storm and I didn’t want to risk getting stuck in the snow or in an accident.
I’m 58, a non smoker with no coronary artery disease. I put on about 15-20 pounds over a 5 year period after my Cardiologist told me to limit my exercising to “soft” walks. Before that, I walk/ran about 4 miles a day and had excellent cardio. My best advice, get into good shape before you have surgery. Take off as much excess weight as you can. Find the best surgeon and Cardiologist, and Anesthetist and then put your faith in them and God. Chances are you’ll be out and about in 5 days or less.

Midge says on March 16th, 2009 at 5:32 pm

Wayne, I went into the hospital on 2/13 for an aortic valve replacement. I was a 7 AM surgery. I was released to come home around midday on Sunday, 2/22. I had a reaction to the first stitch on my incision closure (where the knot is tied) and spent an extra day for that so that they could IV some antiobiotics. I felt my stay was about right, although there is some separation anxiety because you’re leaving all those people and machines that monitor your condition continually. My recovery at home has been good and after four weeks I walk about 1 1/2 miles a day and no longer have any sternum discomfort (but still a little itchy).

The one thing I do want to tell you about so that it won’t worry you if it happens, I can remember absolutely nothing from the time they were wheeling me into surgery until sometime Monday when I was in a regular cardiac care unit. I have absolutely no memory of the cardiac intensive care, the tube down my throat, all the wires and machines, etc. Surprisingly it does not bother me to have lost 3 days….they were more than likely uncomfortable days anyway. And it does not seem to have affected my cognitive function either.

I did have a couple of days in the cardiac unit where I would go to say something and couldn’t remember the word I wanted to say but that passed quickly and we all laughed alot about it.

I am a 67 yr old female, 5’8″ tall, trim build who walked alot before surgery. I also had no other complications like clogged ateries so went into the surgery in pretty good shape and agree with Richard that being in decent shape other than your heart problem is good.

Best of luck to you and the thought of what is going to happen is way worse than what actually happens.


Ted Shearer says on March 16th, 2009 at 10:29 pm

I was checked in to have my surgery on December 4th and I was released on December 9th five day’s after surgery. I just turned 53 and am now 14 weeks out and am back on the golf course playing as good as I was before surgery.

Good Luck,

Ted Shearer

Gina says on March 16th, 2009 at 10:58 pm

My mom was on the far side of the average, over one month, including 13 days in the ICU. She went in 2/10, moved out of ICU 2/22, and finally home 3/15.

She is a fairly healthy 63 yr old female, 4’10”, trim Asian lady, who needed two valves replaced. The valves work great but something caused her body to retain alot of fluid. Her heart still races, which we thought the operation would correct. The doctor’s say it may take 6 weeks for the procedure to be effective.

For the family, it has been baby steps for this recovery. Don’t know why she is the exception to the literature. We’re hoping in one year we can look back and say it all was worthwhile!

Jerry Furman says on March 16th, 2009 at 11:38 pm

I was in the hospital for 13 days

richard cooper says on March 17th, 2009 at 5:51 am

I was 75 at the time of my surgery and hospital stay was 5 days..had to return because I developed pneumonia ..out in another 2 days.

Mary Ferraro says on March 17th, 2009 at 8:03 am

I had mitral valve repair and was in for 8 days. My body retained a lot of fluid (edema) and my electrolytes and insulin needed to get under control too. I never had problems with any of that before the operation but they told me that it all was pretty common stuff that they monitor for. My heart also went into atrial fibrulation twice but they were able to use dugs in my IV to control that too. I gotta tell ya that every single day you do feel better. Also, the nurses are there for you with fast acting anti-nausea meds for the IV and they are very attentive to preventing pain — at least at Mount Sinai in NYC where I was so fortunate to go. It is now 4 months and when people ask how I am doing I no longer say, “Good.” but I always say, “Great!” and I mean it.

Joan Parkinson says on March 17th, 2009 at 10:36 am

Hi – It is seven weeks since my Aortic Value replacement. I spent five nights in hospital, of course in Canada with socialized medicine I didn’t have the option of asking to stay longer and just paying for it.
However, I didn’t have any complications and could recover much better at home than in the noisy hospital. I didn’t require any professional home care after I got home either, just my husband looking after me.

I am sure Mrs. Bush can afford to stay in hospital as long as she wanted too and of course she is 83 which I am sure makes a difference. I am only 67.

Michael Gnatek says on March 17th, 2009 at 6:42 pm


Even though I am four months out from my Mitral Valve Repair, I think I will still order your book, based on your informative and insightful blog.

As for the hospital stay question, I was in the hospital for just a little over 24 hours. I had a minimally invasive Mitral Valve Repair performed by Dr. Paul Massimiano at INOVA Fairfax Hospital here in Northern Virginia. Dr. Massimiano has some good instructional videos on YouTube…just type his name in and you should find it.

Thanks for all the help! Stay well.


Josh says on March 17th, 2009 at 10:43 pm


I was in the hospital for five days/four nights (sounds like a vacation package!) from the day of the surgery. In on Thursday, March 5th, home on Monday, March 9th.

Good luck!


Kathy says on March 18th, 2009 at 12:00 am


I was in the hospital 5 days after aortic valve replacement. I was 48. That was 9 years ago. I was born with a defective valve that worsened over the years until I couldn’t even walk across the yard without seeing stars. Now I’ve become a personal fitness trainer. My best advice to anyone preparing for the surgery would be to have a good recliner because you’ll probably be sleeping in it. It was very uncomfortable for me to lie down as that pulled on the sternum. So, I just slept in my chair for a couple of weeks. My incision was glued instead of stitched or stapled. That was sort of itchy for a while. I think I may have had a bit of an allergy to the glue. Good luck. Kathy

Caryn Martinez says on March 18th, 2009 at 7:26 pm

Long hospital stays aren’t always caused by complications of surgery. Often the surgery has gone just fine, but the patient has to stay until his/her INR (blood clotting rate) is stable. Other people who had complications after surgery, but who don’t have clotting problems, go home sooner.

jeff stoveken says on March 18th, 2009 at 7:27 pm

i was in the hospital for 6 days.i went from the ccu to my room in a wheelchair the next day after my surgery.and i sat in a chair as soon as i was brought up there.i would have been home in 4 except they had to level off my coumadin, since i chose the st judes valve.i was so surprised at how great i felt within just a few days. i still cant really believe sometimes that ive actually had major heart surgery! jeff

Ray says on March 18th, 2009 at 9:16 pm

I just got home today after five days at Yale-New Haven Hospital. I had 8″ of ascending aorta and the aortic valve replaced. I can’t emphasize the “get fit as possible” message highly enough. I felt very little pain and am enjoying a quick (and sensible) recovery. I had been scheduled to pedal across the U.S. March 22 and was looking forward to competing in an Ironman race in Coeur d’Alene or Lake Placid. Planning and training came to a screeching stop when an echo cardiogram showed a 4.6 cm aneurysm. I chose the mechanical valve because I’m planning on at least another quarter century of high activity (I’m 61)

I’m proud to say I’m a client of John Elefteriades, MD, professor and cardiothoracic chair at Yale Medicine. What a humble giant in the field!


Author of “Your Heart: An Owner’s Guide (see Amazon.com)


Terry Kriedman says on March 20th, 2009 at 11:15 am

Hi Adam,
I just got home from my surgical stay. Surgery with Dr. Lawrence Cohn at Brigham and Womens in Boston ( a fantastic heart hospital, and thank you for recommending the surgeon). I am 62, was healthy, thin, worked out, etc. and had a mitral valve repair and a Maze procedure (I understand the valve was “shredded” but able to be repaired). After the surgery, I felt COMPLETELY knocked out, run over by a truck, etc. all the things that people say. I woke up in the CICU with an endotracheal tube and my daughter insisting that I “breathe” because apparently I wasn’t doing a good job of that. However, unlike some others, I do remember that, and my daughter said I insisted on writing all sorts of notes asking about my blood pressure, my heart rate, my foley catheter, etc. That must have enterained the nurses! I was not really ready for discharge until the 7th post op day, and was frightened to leave before that. I stayed in a hotel for two days in Boston, as well (I live on an island, and it is a car and ferry trip, should I need to get back to the hospital). So I really think that it is SO individualized how long someone remains in the hospital. My issues were some heart block, hypotension and complete loss of appetite and nausea. Almost no pain. They took very good care of me, and now that I am home I am already feeling stronger. What a difference a day or two makes!!!

Kathy Lemons says on March 20th, 2009 at 3:41 pm

My 37 year old son, David, had aortic valve replacement on March 10. His cardiologist had told him to expect to leave the hospital five or six days after surgery if all went well. After having to return to surgery, due to excessive bleeding, the plan was still to let him leave on March 14 (only four days after his surgery). Actually, it would have been more like three and one/half days. When they had to take David back to surgery, re-open his chest and locate the cause of the excessive bleeding that made his return to his room after midnight the day of the surgery. Still the surgeon expected to discharge him on the morning of the 14th. Unfortunately, the post surgery ultra-sound showed a possible leakage. Along with this my son had begun running a temperature and had a blood pressure spike. However, after additional tests were done on Tuesday, March 17 he was finally released to go home.

Adam, your book definitely helped my son and his care givers greatly. We were better informed as to what to expect before, during and after his valve replacement surgery.

Thank you,
Kathy, Oklahoma

Kathy Lemons says on March 20th, 2009 at 3:45 pm

Your book is a wonderful aid to patients and care givers.

Shirley Granger says on March 20th, 2009 at 5:11 pm

I had aortic valve surgery in april 2001 because i was diagnosed with severe aortic stenosis. I have a metal valve and have to take warfarin daily for life. I had my surgery done in papworth hospital Huntindonshire uk. I was in hospital 13 days as there was a bit of a problem with getting my warfarin levels right . I was very well looked after when i was in the hospital the staff were brilliant . after my discharge from papworth i made a very good recovery and have to see a cardiologist every year to eighteen month and they are always pleased with my progress.

Steve Dubay says on August 19th, 2009 at 2:30 pm

I had a quadruple by-pass surgery 11 years ago; on March 27th of this year, I had aortic valve surgery. The same surgeon, the same hospital…the same area cut open for the work! I had a “shield” this time, over my sternum – first time, had only the sternum wired back after surgery. The recovery was MUCH BETTER the second time; NO movement of the sternum bones as they healed (versus the first time) since the sternum was stitched to the “shield”. Anyway, I spent four days in the hospital after surgery this time, versus five the first time. Better technique eleven years later? Different surgery ? Who knows???? Like the first time, I was released to drive four weeks (to the day} after surgery. I am a commercial bus driver now, in retirement; I drove my first time commercially one day after I was released for driving. I have completed a twelve week cardiac rehab program (both surgeries), and FEEL GREAT!

April nichols says on November 3rd, 2010 at 10:53 pm

my friend just had a heart valve repaired on monday night nov1/2010. but what i am ticked off about they let him go home 2 days after surgery. would you all agree with me that it was 2 early to let him go home. he does not even have any body to take care of him. i am worryed about is health. he is between 36 and 38 years old. he does smoke though could that have caused him to have a heartattack on fridaay.

Sarah says on October 13th, 2013 at 7:25 pm

I had my aortic valve replaced on Wednesday morning 10/09/2013 and was discharged from the hospital this afternoon 10/13/2013. Feeling great, very tired but am extremely excited I found this website!!

josborne3 says on February 24th, 2017 at 9:39 pm

My good friend had heart valve surgery last Thursday morning. He just called me to tell me he could be released as early as Sunday or Monday. He will be coming here since he lives alone and should be somewhere where he has help, if he needs it.

William Canady says on November 20th, 2017 at 9:39 pm

Had aortic vavle replacement 9 weeks ago and pacemaker but my blood pressure is all over today it was198/100 during rehab is that normal

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