“When Will I Feel More Energetic & Less Tired After Heart Surgery?” Asks Joan
By Adam Pick on August 22, 2012
I just received a very interesting from Joan about being tired after heart surgery.
In her email, Joan writes, “I am now 7 weeks post-op and am tired all the time and have no energy. I remember so many folks telling me that after my surgery I would feel so much better and have all this amazing energy. Well, as of now I do not feel as energetic as I did before surgery… by a long shot! I had no real symptoms prior to aortic valve replacement even though the valve was badly diseased. Now, everything is a major effort and I get out of breath with the slightest exertion. I have a feeling it may be caused by the metoprolol drug (the only prescription I take) and I do have a call into my cardiologist to see if I can lower the dosage. I am eating a high protein diet and get lots of rest and a nap every afternoon. Do you know when I might be feeling more energetic?”
I — and many other patients in our community — can relate to Joan. Although each patient heals at different rates, it seems like many of us are lethargic, fatigued and tired after heart surgery. Personally, I remember feeling exhausted for the first ten weeks after my valve replacement surgery. I remember saying to Robyn, my wife, “I’m soooooooo tired. When will I feel like my old self again?”
To learn more about this issue, I contacted Dr. Salenger, Director of Valve Surgery at Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern, New York. So you know, Doctor Salenger has a specific clinical interest in post-operative care of heart valve replacement and heart valve repair patients.
In his response to Joan, Dr. Salenger noted the following:
Hi Joan – Don’t get discouraged! Everyone is an individual and people recover at different speeds. It is not unusual to still be tired and lack energy at 7 weeks. Some people take 12 weeks or longer to get over the surgery. If you compare your energy levels on a week-to-week basis, you should see some improvement. If you are not improving as time goes on then there are some things for you and your doctor to think about. Your idea about the metoprolol is a good point. Also, ask your cardiologist if any other medications could be a problem. Especially focus on any medications that are new to you. Your physician may also want to check a chest x-ray to make sure your lungs look okay, and evaluate your heart and valve function with an echocardiogram. Most likely, however, you are on a normal post-operative trajectory and can feel confident you will be back in form, with more energy, over time. Hope this is helpful, Dr. Rawn Salenger
I hope this Joan (and perhaps you) learn more about being tired after heart surgery. Thanks to Dr. Salenger for sharing his clinical expertise with our community.
Keep on tickin!