“How Long Were You In The Intensive Care Unit After Heart Surgery?” Asks Cindy
By Adam Pick on May 9, 2009
Cindy, from Illinois, just asked me a fantastic question about heart valve surgery and the intensive care unit (ICU).
Her email reads, “Adam – The time is finally here. After suffering from aortic stenosis for the past twelve months, I’m going in for heart valve replacement next week. Yes, I’m nervous. Yes, I’m anxious. Anyways, I have a question for you about the ICU. How long were you (and other patients) in the intensive care unit? I want to know what to expect and I want to make sure my family knows what to expect. Thanks, Cindy.”
To start, I want to acknowledge Cindy for asking an excellent question. In my opinion, expectation management is critical for patients and their caregivers. That said, I’d like to publicly say, “Great job Cindy!”
Me (Adam) In The Intensive Care Unit
As for Cindy’s question, I was in the intensive care unit for 24 hours following my aortic valve replacement at USC Medical Center in Los Angeles. However, just because I was in the ICU for one day, that does not mean all patients will have the same experience. (To learn more about aortic valve replacement, click here.)
If there is one thing I stress and re-stress to my readers, it is the fact that heart valve surgery is a personal, patient experience. While there are benchmarks to guide patients through that experience, please remember that your experience will be your own – especially during the recovery.
“How does that relate to Cindy’s question about time spent in the intensive care unit following heart surgery?” you might be wondering.
In the past four years, I have spoke with thousands of heart valve surgery patients. During the research for my book, I learned that some patients are in the ICU for only one day (just like me). Other patients, however, remained in the ICU for 2-3 days. Sometimes, if surgical complications occur, patients remain in the ICU for longer periods of time.
Again, the experience of heart surgery is personal. That is why, if I was to answer Cindy’s question, I would simply say, “It depends.” However, most of the patients I have discussed this topic with are in the intensive care unit for 1-2 days.
Luckily, a number of former heart valve surgery patients visit this blog. You can scroll down to read over 30 patient responses to this question.
Keep on tickin!