recovering from heart valve surgery

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-04-2003
recovering from heart valve surgery
Tue, 11-04-2003 - 8:36pm
I had heart valve surgery at the end of May of 2003. The reason for the surgery was to replace my old pig skin valve from 12 years ago. This time I decided to get a mechanical valve, in fact it's a valve that the FDA just approved. It's suppose to be much better than the previous mechanical valves, because it's not suppose to clot & eventually they will take you off the coumadin. Plus it will last forever & I won't have to keep replacing the valve.

First of all, I hate taking the coumadin, because I can never reach my ir levels. It should be around 2.0 to 3.5 & it stayed in the 1.1 to 1.7 range for months. I finally made my range this past Saturday. (11/1) I'm still not to happy about taking coumadin, but I figure I will have to take it for awhile, so I might as well adjust.

The reason I'm posting my concern is I want to know if anyone has experience or knows someone who experience panic attacks after heart surgery. Keep in mind I had my surgery 6 months ago, I know my heart has to heal, but last Tuesday morning I had a weird episode. I shot straight out of bed at about 3 am, couldn't catch my breath, sweating like someone had dumped a bucket of water over my head, light headness & very dizzy & my heart was beating rapidly. It took me about 5 minutes to get my breathing under control. It happen

again about 3 hours later. Called my doctor & spoke to his nurse, she called me later & said if I should come in. Of course I couldn't because I couldn't stand up. She suggested I call an ambulance, but I didn't feel like it was an emergency.

After a long nap, woke up feeling better. No more light headness, no more sweating, no rapid heart beating, it was like it never happen. I stayed home from work for a couple of days. I went to take my daughter to her eye appointment at Walmart & had another episode. I barely made it to the vision center. The whole time I was there I felt like I was going to pass out. When I left Walmart, I dropped the kids at their fathers & went home to rest. I was debating if I should go to the emergency room & finally I did. They couldn't find anything wrong. They said my heart is just healing & I have to take it easy. Now ladies, I don't do alot of strenous work, or exercise & I didn't feel like I was over doing it, but I listen to them.

Well things haven't gotten better. I can barely make it into work. Our parking lot is about a block from the building and I can't make it out of the parking lot to get to the building. I parked across the street, by the time I got to the elevator had another episode & almost passed out. I had about 3 episodes right after another, before they stop. Oh, when they stop it's like nothing ever happen. Sweating stops, heart isn't beating rapidly, I feel like normal. But still the doctors are saying nothing is wrong.

A friend who had valve surgery told me about the panic attacks he had similiar to mine that happen to him after 6 months. He said I just have to go through it. I feel like I can't even do anything or barely function. I don't have the option not to work and you can only get assistant from people for so long.

If anyone has any advice or has experince this before or knows of someone who has experince this before, please tell me about it. I've been praying & I know thst God is healing me, but these episodes have thrown me for a loop. I would appreciate any advice, support or whatever.

Thank you,

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-31-2003
Wed, 11-05-2003 - 11:56am
I don't know about panic attacks specifically, but as an uninformed layperson, I'm not sure how you can have a "panic attack" when you're sleeping and not especially worried about something. I'm no doctor and can't be dispensing medical advice, but it certainly seems to me this is worth getting a second opinion about.

Disclaimer: My situation was very different. But when I was having symptoms, I did what many women do (and what too many doctors tell female patients): wonder if perhaps it was in my mind. So sometimes when I had chest pains, I'd figure it was probably stress triggering them (or something I ate, blah blah blah). After awhile, though, it dawned on me that I was having these episodes when I wasn't particularly worrying about something or eating anything that could cause it. I wasn't very satisfied with the answers I was getting from one cardiologist I was referred to, and told my physician, who referred me to someone else who is wonderful -- and discovered I had a 95% blockage in a major coronary artery.

I don't think you've got anything to lose from getting another opinion about what you're experiencing.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-04-2003
Wed, 11-05-2003 - 1:04pm
Thanks for the information. I was thinking about going to see my old cardiologist, because I just can't believe the panic attacks theory. I keep asking why now? Why not before? I'm taking a combination of medications that is suppose to control my heart from going into what they call A-Fib (heart beats so the 200 range) They have been working up until now.

I've been keeping a log and noticed that they only happen in the morning, never in the afternoon or evening. A friend suggested taking my medications when I get to work and seeing if that helps. I'm going to try it starting tomorrow & I'll post what happens.

Thanks again for the advice & I am going to get a second opinion.