“How Long Is My Heart Iced & Stopped During Surgery?” Asks Steve

By Adam Pick on June 8, 2012

I just received an interesting email from Steve about the time in which the heart is iced and stopped during heart valve replacement and heart valve repair surgery.

In his email, Steve writes, “Hi Adam – I am having mitral valve repair surgery next month. One glaring question… I’ve read that when the heart is stopped it is “iced” and therefore can last 2-4 hours without tissue damage.  However, a whole bunch of these surgeries take between 4-7 hours, sometimes more. How do we reconcile the discrepancy? Thank you, Steve”

Ice Chips On Heart During Cardiac Surgery
Ice Chips On Heart During Cooling Process

Steve raises a great question. For that reason, I contacted Dr. Marc Gillinov to get a great answer. If you were unaware, Dr. Gillinov is a staff surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic, co-author of Heart 411 and a super nice guy.


Dr. Marc Gillinov

In his response, Dr. Gillinov noted:

With current techniques to protect the heart, we can have the heart stopped for 3-4 hours with no problem. For most operations, an hour or two suffices. The entire operation may take 4 or 5 hours, but the heart is only stopped for an hour or two of this total.

As many of patients in our community are fascinated by the medical advances of cardiac surgery, I asked Dr. Gillinov a follow-up question, “Has there been any recent developments or medical advances that have extended the time in which the heart can be stopped safely?”

Dr. Gillinov’s response was direct and simple:

Nothing dramatic or new.

I hope this helped Steve (and perhaps you) learn more about heart valve surgery. Thanks to Steve for his question about icing and stopping the heart. Also, a special thanks to Dr. Marc Gillinov for his ongoing support of our community.

  • To learn more about Dr. Marc Gillinov, please click here.

Keep on tickin!


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 The Wall Street Journal.

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 The Wall Street Journal.

Adam's Newest Blogs

Adam's Newest Posts

Breakthrough Discovery: INSPIRIS RESILIA Aortic Valve Approved by the FDA Learn More.

We Rise To #2 On Feedspot’s 2018 Top Heart Blogs & Websites Rankings! Learn More.

New Community Posts

Sue says, "Cardiac cath via groin went smoothly..."
Read more

Sue says, "I'm curous to know if people with..."
Read more

Newest Community Post

Sue says, "Cardiac cath via groin went smoothly"
Read more

Sue says, "I'm curous to know if people with"
Read more

MARIE says, "Moving alone, so far I had a my CT scan"
Read more

Find Heart Valve Surgeons

Search 1,500 patient-recommended surgeons