“Dizzy After Heart Valve Surgery?” Asks Rick

By Adam Pick on September 9, 2009

I just received a very interesting question from Rick about dizziness after heart valve surgery.

Rick writes, “Adam – On August 7, 2009, I had mitral valve repair surgery. Two weeks after surgery I am home and walking four times per day around our neighborhood. Everything feels good except when I first stand up from a sitting position.  I get dizzy even when I stand up slowly. Do other patients experience this? Thanks, Rick”



To answer Rick’s question, I can share that I too had bouts of dizziness after heart valve replacement surgery. The dizzy spells were very similar to how Rick described it… When standing up, I would become slightly off-balance for one or two seconds. To learn more about dizziness after open heart surgery, I did some research. According to MedHelp, “Dizziness is not a common post-operative problem in patients who have had heart valve replacements, so this problem may be unrelated to the valve surgery.”

That said, The Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) suggests that “being dizzy” after heart surgery may be related to medication. The STS notes that medicines used in the hospital can cause several side effects. The STS then lists a series of side effects (shown below) which explicitly includes “dizzy or lightheaded when standing”:

  • Excessive nausea, diarrhea, constipation, or stomach pain
  • Vomiting
  • Dizzy or lightheaded when standing
  • Confusion
  • Tingling in hands and feet
  • Extremely slow or fast pulse
  • Skin rash
  • Unusual bruising or bleeding

If you are reading this and you already had heart valve surgery, I’m curious… Did you experience any issues with dizziness following heart valve surgery? Scroll down to leave a comment and you can also read over 250 patient comments.

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.

maureen ellis says on December 10th, 2016 at 6:47 pm

I truly hope thing work out

maureen ellis says on December 10th, 2016 at 6:53 pm

yes I have the same things I have a pigs valve to maybe that’s the problem

maureen ellis says on December 10th, 2016 at 6:57 pm

I am trying to find out myself

maureen ellis says on December 10th, 2016 at 7:00 pm

if you find out let us know

maureen ellis says on December 10th, 2016 at 7:19 pm

I hope there is hope I was lead to Believe I would be better it is a nightmare this is not me with a lot of us having the same issue you would think these intelligent
doctors would know So many of us are describing the same thing

Don Wilson says on March 12th, 2017 at 11:44 am

I had mitril ring repair on 2/21/17 and thought i was doing well. Went to rehab and it didnt go well. Hrt rate went to 170 and shortness of breath after walkink briskly for only 1min 40 sec.I have afib that can’t be fixed. Now when at home i get winded and dizzy easily. Very worried feel the end is close.65 yr old man

Don Wilson says on March 12th, 2017 at 11:51 am

I feel the same as you. Was told I would die in less than 4 yrs without surgery. So I had it but now have a bunch of new problems. Wish I could help you.Afraid of death but this isn’t a life worth living.God Bless you.

maureen ellis says on March 12th, 2017 at 12:33 pm

I’ve had every test they still have no answers however my blood pressure drops when It happens Sometimes. It hasn’t happened for a while Thank God I am on medication to increase the blood pressure I’m just grateful time being I truly wish you the best if you have any answers? please email me

Don Wilson says on March 13th, 2017 at 7:36 pm

I had mitril repair on feb 21st and have severe dizzyness to the point of blacking out. Doctors say its meds but mostly fluid around the heart. I am back in the hospital march 13th and will probably have the fluid drained. More risky heart surgery 3 weeks after the valve repair. And the fluid could rtn. Don’t think I can get any lower. If I was a horse they would shoot me.

John Cousins says on March 31st, 2017 at 1:27 pm

15 weeks post AVR and Aortic Root replacement and I felt better a month ago than I do now. I am dizzy with both standing and sitting. I have had appointments with a neurologist and a CT scan of my brain along with meeting with my Cardiologist. It appears that my blood pressure is low and it MAY be causing a lot of this. I have been taken off the Metropolol. I was only on a small dose of 12.5 (split a 25) once a day and I would get readings of 96/60 regularly. It is creeping back up and averages 106/70 now. I am wearing an event monitor and my heart rate is usually pretty steady unless I am having an “episode”. About twice a week, I nearly pass out. My legs get heavy, my vision clouds around the edges and my pulse quickens. I am hoping this gets figured out really soon, because I WAS just getting to the point where I felt better than ever and wanted to start some serious workouts.

Alexander says on April 16th, 2017 at 8:23 am

My mother has the same thing but is not standing up, is more to do when she is walking around, turning her head left and right looking at things when dizziness attack, she often loses balance but can stop the dizziness by staying still. My mum has an open heart surgery to fix her valve and having a cardiac bypass. It took her about a year with physiotherapy and other supportive treatment to fully recover. I think it has more to do with medication and more often to do with hypertension, aspirin and cholestrol medication as well as dehydration, especially most people with cardiac surgery often end up too careful with diet and fluid intake that they end up with even lower blood pressure than before, especially those who has hypertension for a long time that their bodies are so used to high blood pressure, the body does not used to normal to lower than normal blood pressure. That is what I believe anyway. After her stopped half of the blood pressure medication, attack seems less frequent.

My mum’s case was very complicated which rendered her in ICU for well over half year but she is fully recovered now and healthy as a horse. For many of you who had the same experience, be patient and follow doctor and nurse post operative and discharge care and follow up supportive treatment. You will recover too. Good luck.

berni says on April 17th, 2017 at 10:59 am

I had mitral valve repair exactly 8 weeks ago and today experienced feeling lightheaded, dizzy and feeling hot around my neck and everything going black for approx 2-3 hours..I am on a beta blocker and aspirin once daily…. after trying sweet drinks and no change in my symptoms .. I remembered a GP years ago advising a patient who felt faint to try eating salted crisps as the sodium would help raise any low blood pressure.. I ate the crisps adding a little extra salt and then rested with a good result feeling a lot better an hour or 2 later…I am seeing my consultant for my post op check up tomorrow.. if he offers any further advice or insight into why this happens .. I will add this to this blog…I will also try the tip added by Robin Hirsch which i have copied and pasted ..”One trick the physical therapist taught me is that before standing up or sitting up after an extended time in the position is to move your legs and arms, flexing and unflexing the muscles before standing. The contraction of the muscles force the blood to circulate and raise your blood pressure. This should ease the dizziness.”

WallyGibby says on May 7th, 2017 at 5:56 pm

I’m 12 days post aortic valve replacement, left atrial appendage clipp, triple cabg.
I also began to get very dizzy 7 day’s post discharge when I stand up, quickly or slowly.
They changed my bp meds upon discharge from norvasc to meptropol (sp) sorry…..that’s probably it.

Ken Drinkard says on May 19th, 2017 at 4:13 pm

Its been 8 mos.since open heart surgery.I jad 5 cabg. Im still dizzy when Im moving. I cant drive a car and no riding abike or motorcycle.Im ready to give up.Im to weak for exercise. How long will Ilive?

Ken Drinkard says on May 19th, 2017 at 4:17 pm

I take100 mg. Of Metropolol.

giotto says on June 3rd, 2017 at 5:46 pm

I am in my 9th week post surgery of valve replacement. My dizziness and balance issue seem to be getting worse not better…. sometimes when getting up and staring to walk I stagger like person who is drunk… I live alone and manage but sometimes feel a wee bit dizzy when driving. I have been thru som med issues but think or hope they are fixed now.

Joan says on June 25th, 2017 at 6:49 am

WOW! thought i was reading all about me. I have had dizziness off and on not bad but enough that I know what it is plus my balance is way off-turning my head or just bending over. I can trip over air right now
I started Tai Chi May of 2016 and stopped in Nov of 2016 due to the upcoming surgery, no issues with the surgery everything went fine, had 1 afib in the hospital and now I am about 10 days away from getting this heart monitor off to make sure I had no other afib attacks. taking the “wonderful” drug coumindin plues the Metroprolol and baby aspirin. 2 Ramiprils 2x a day-am & pm. Been thinking I was having brain tumors but now I read these comments its the meds I am sure
I can do everything now that I did before surgery so I know it is not my heart
will discuss this with the doc in 3 weeks. Sometimes I think they over medicate patients “just in case” and make things work
thanks so much–I feel so much better knowing its not just me having the issues

Anne Solheim says on June 30th, 2017 at 10:45 am

Hi John – my husband is going through some similar feelings to you in that he felt better a few weeks ago than he does now at 12 weeks post op, although I’m not sure his is related to BP. Can you tell me if you have started to feel better since this post? Or come to any conclusion as to why it was happening?

John Cousins says on July 6th, 2017 at 9:37 am

Hi Anne, Luckily, I can give you some good news. I am feeling much better now! Soon after this post, I realized that the symptoms I was experiencing came mostly from anxiety. The mind is a POWERFUL tool and I would think the worst when I got the slightest hint of something being wrong. I was put on a low dose of anxiety medication and started talking about the fact that I was panicking a bit (admitting and talking about it really helped). Once I started to feel the slight dizziness again, I would easily be able to tell myself that I am fine, take a deep breathe and go on as if nothing happened. I am finding out that this is most common among us heart patients and to be expected. Which is comforting to know. I am not saying this is what is happening to your husband, but it is something to think about.

I hope your husband starts to feel better soon! Most days I don’t even think about what I went through just six short months ago. I have really turned a corner. Best wishes!!! John

George Helmstead says on July 15th, 2017 at 12:09 pm

My husband is 3 months post aortic valve (cow/pig valve) replacement surgery
(April 11, 2017). He’s prescribed Metoprolol (50mg 2x) and Crestor (10mg 1x). He returned to the gym (light work with weights, treadmill/elliptical over the last month, walking 30 minutes daily). Recovery has been without incident except for light tingling in left leg & left fingers. This week while walking he turned his head multiple times to watch a line of motorcyclists pass by. Vertigo presented immediately causing him to fall forward. This shocked/frightened us as it was so sudden & unexpected. Thanks to your postings we know it’s a symptom of the surgery & we also know that we’re not alone in experiencing them. Many thanks!

Suego says on August 11th, 2017 at 9:34 pm

My husband has had the unfortunate experience of having two separate heart valve replacements and another surgery to drain off fluid that had collected around his heart and lungs, all within a three week period. That last surgery was two weeks ago and he has been fighting nausea and dizziness on sitting/standing ever since. It has adversely affected his recovery resulting in admittance to inpatient rehab for physical therapy. We are trying various forms of ginger, and or Mylanta but it’s not working very well. Zolfran seems to help for a while. His Dr has taken him off Percocet, Pericolace and Potassium to see if those are the culprits (as of today).

Ken Drinkard says on December 23rd, 2017 at 2:53 pm

I am aa heart bypass patient and stiill weak and off balance plus I get dizzy in acar like im falling if going at a normal speed.Cant do my old job anymore. (Driving a semi.)over 15 months since surgery)Gave up months ago.

Anna-Marie van Zyl says on January 7th, 2018 at 9:54 am

Thank you for all your reports, it really encouraged me. I thought I would never have heart problems. I surrendered my life to God in 1961. He immediately delivered me from all my sins and vices, like smoking, drinking, dancing, swearing etc.

On the 7th December 2017 I had to undergo a triple bypass, on the 14th I was discharged and on about the 5th day my dizzy spells set off. On the internet I read all about your dizzy spells and that you have to cope with it. I prayed that the Lord would help me for it was really miserable. He answered my prayers and about the 30th December 2017 took the dizzy sells away, it is now the 7th January 2018 I am writing this to say that since the Lord healed me, I’m praying for you all who still suffer under these dizzy spells.

Rev. Willie van Zyl
7th January 2018

James Walraven says on January 24th, 2018 at 6:58 pm

Had an aorta valve replaced, December 1, 2008 at the Loma Linda Medical Center by a Dr. Razi. My aorta was a genetic defect and only had 2 flaps instead of 3. The doctor came by to see me the day and told me that due to my size & age he thought he might have to strip some veins out of my legs. He said what he found was that I had the veins of a 20 year old and asked how I did that? I responded that a doctor friend of mine who had been a surgeon for 20 plus years developed supplements related to disease & aging and I had been using them. He did not believe me but when I researched my friends many, many testimonials, he had helped countless patients, including my wife who was relieved of migraines she had since she was a child.

I take NO BIG Pharma and my annual physical, both VA & civilian says my vitals are all normal. My Problem is, when I try to lay on my left side, within seconds my head feels like it’s shutting down or if I lay down on my back and turn my head sharply to the left, same thing. I quickly scramble to get upright and the feeling goes away. I don’t know if my blood circulation is shut off and I’m about to have a stroke or what? Otherwise, my doctor says I’m doing darn good for an 87 year old.
Anyone have any comments?

Randy Conley says on February 6th, 2018 at 2:44 am

I had a aortic dissection or anorizim on july 14 2017 . As soon as i got home I started having servere dizzy spells. They come what seems like in waves always 2 of them. They are so bad I thought I was going to fall out of my recliner. When the first wave hits I get very very sick and start projectile vomiting. Then the second wave hits this goes on for 10 to 20 min. after that I’m light headed weak and sick from 1 to 2 hours. I am on Metoprolol 50mg as well. I’ve seen family Dr., Neroligist, and cardioligist had MRI seen ENT Specialist know one can tell me whats wrong. I also stay very tired, and week, and shortness of breath. Something has got to give. Seems like nothing sets its off it just happens.

Ellen Fried says on February 16th, 2018 at 8:48 pm

Had aortic valve replacement and a single by pass on Oct 18th 2017. Depression and memory loss went away but I have imbalance each time I walk.. on 2 blood clot meds and metropopol and clopidogrel.im hoping when off the blood clot meds my walking will be back to normal.. what do u think?

Daykota Blake says on February 18th, 2018 at 1:27 pm

It’s been a year and 1/2 since I had a mechanical heart valve surgery , and I still getting extremely dizzy a few times a month.. doctors don’t seem to know the cause, put I never had these spells only after surgery , it’s scary, what’s happening?

Theresa Leininger says on February 21st, 2018 at 6:52 pm

Randy, my husband had the same type of surgery, with a few other complications. He has a halter-monitor on him now and will have echo and ultrasound of carotid arteries tomorrow. When his “episodes” happen his heart rate jumps up into the 120-130 range. If we find anything out I will share.

Malcolm Coward says on March 2nd, 2018 at 11:37 pm

Hi guys. My aortic valve replacement was in 2011. Happy to say this dizziness does fade. Mine lasted approximately 4 years. Now coffee is the only thing that very very rarely sees me dizzy. I’m 2015 I did the Great Wall Marathon and in 2016 did the Big Five Marathon. This year I’m doing the Rim2Rim in the Grand Canyon. Being 47 when I had surgery made me feel very old so I decided to get fit. Valve replacement is the start of life guys. Just know from someone the got dizzy and threw up and sweated every couple of days, it will stop.

Malcolm Coward says on March 2nd, 2018 at 11:44 pm

It will eventually pass. It’s a horrible thing. Last 4 years for me. No one can tell you why. 1 Dr said it was like having a temporary brain injury. Blood isn’t ment to come out of the body and be pumped thru plastic tubes and back in again. Also the breathing machine does so at a set rate. We are all different so maybe it wasn’t quite enough oxygen for us. Either way in time it will pass. Now if I have pre workout and do a very strenuous workout I get a hint of the dizziness. Coffee overload. We are alive which is the main thing. I was 47.

Malcolm Coward says on March 3rd, 2018 at 2:00 am

How are you going Elizabeth? My dizziness has gone finally…

Martha says on March 21st, 2018 at 2:07 pm

I am 3 weeks post open heart aortic valve replacement. I was extremely dizzy in the hospital. It has gotten better but I am still having some dizziness and vision issues. I expeince the dizziness upon standing but also sometimes for no apparent reason while sitting also. Anyone else.?

Dan says on July 15th, 2018 at 9:50 am

I’m 60, had aortic valve replacement July 29, 2018. I sit and stand up quickly I get dizzy and cold sweats.
I also notice if I walk up stairs I get the same feeling and also have a heaviness in my legs with muscle fatigue.
I am on Metoprolol wonder if this could be the reason? Doctor said the symptoms are from the Medicines but they will not take me off at this point.
I am tired but have a hard time sleeping through the night. I do sleep about 30-40 min at a time in the day but cant get a good night sleep. Also my chest feels tight from shoulder to shoulder. I believe this is healing. Anyone know?

JEREMY CAESAR says on September 23rd, 2018 at 12:51 am

After a double valve replacement, I also get dizzy lose my balance & feel faint. The feeling is terrible & sometimes scary as I cannot walk properly. I have to sit down or I might fall. I close my eyes & hold my head hoping that the feeling passes quickly. It lasts for a few minutes but I only feel myself again after about10 minutes. I am curious if this will be a lifelong occurrence? Is it a sign of something serious or not?

DeeDee says on September 24th, 2018 at 1:43 pm

5.5 months after mitral valve replacement – and other heart repairs -I still have occasional bouts of severe nausea and dizziness. I also have a problem with my left ventricular refraction so, basically, borderline (sometimes over the line) chronic heart failure. Just spoke to the cardiologist’s nurse. She says: Expect this as a Lifelong issue…. so very sorry. I’m okay with this – As Long As I Know to expect this possibility. Not knowing why I was dizzy and nauseous Was the scary part. I’ve also read that both symptoms are most likely related to the meds that keep me out of heart failure.

Kathy Watkins says on December 4th, 2018 at 4:49 pm

Adam, I found your article today. I was searching for answers to why after 3 1/2 months from my OHS I am so dizzy and once to the point where I blacked out after putting my groceries in my car! I was grateful that I was seen in the parking lot by a few angels. ( real people ). It was a terrifying experience. Any guesses on this please?

Leave a Reply

Newest Community Post

Isabella says, "Did anyone experienced delirium after"
Read more

Daneen says, "Thank you, Adam for the awesome webinar"
Read more

Ana says, "Thank you Adam my bro and Dr. Hodges for"
Read more

Find Heart Valve Surgeons

Search 1,500 patient-recommended surgeons