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pdxmike, June 1,  2021  12:23am EST

How long for sternum to feel normal after open heart?

My open heart was 4 months ago. My sternum doesn't really feel stable. It hardly ever pops (maybe 4 small ones ever.) But when I lie on my side to sleep, and need to roll over, it feels, well, not solid. I don't get stabbing pains. But it aches. I can do some modest bench presses  of 100 lbs, but a push ing off to get up from bed again brings that instability feeling. How much longer should I wait for it see someone about this? What kind of specialist should I see about this?

4 Replies
  • AHAModerator
    AHAModerator, June 1,  2021  9:05am EST

    Hello there, 

    Thank you for joining the Support Network and sharing your story. As I am not a medical professional, I recommend calling your cardiologist and consulting a specialist about this, and as you wait to hear from others, I can share some resources on Heart Procedures and Surgeries

    Please keep us updated on how you are doing! 


    AHA Moderator 

  • JamesPL
    JamesPL, June 2,  2021  10:00pm EST

    It can take a while for your sternum to feel normal again. After four months, I know I still wasn't feeling quite right so I asked my cardiologist about it. She told me flat out that they had to cut through a lot of "stuff" to get to my heart and it will take some time. She also mentioned that some of the numbness I was experiencing may never fully return. My reaction was that as long as she was telling me it was normal, I could live with that. I do agree that you should talk to your cardiologist and I would also make sure you're cleared to bench press 100 lbs. I'm certain I didn't attempt anything like that until at least a year. I will tell you that it's been years for me and almost all those issues have disappeared and I'm able to do all the things I had done prior to surgery.

    Good luck!


  • GoldHearts
    GoldHearts, June 3,  2021  7:45am EST

    It's going to take a while. I didn't feel right until about a year and a half after. Side sleeping, workouts, and everything you do is going to put lots of pressure on your chest. It's going to feel tight and uncomfortable. I would recommend visiting your cardiologist and they can check the healing process with you.


    Stay Safe,


  • pdxmike
    pdxmike, June 3,  2021  2:59pm EST

    Thanks for the perspective guys. 

    My cardiologist similarly suggests it's a bit early for what's been my degree of concern and suggests I wait until I hit the six month mark (at least) before he wants to give it a closer look. 

    Jim, I saw my cardiologisty just last month and let him know I've been in the weight room twice, and am able to do 2 sets of 20 reps of 70 lbs oin the incline press with zero pops or other stternal wierdness so he has me explicetley on *no* weight restrictions (of course with the *but don't over exert yourself qualifier*) My rehab nurses want me just to make sure I can do the multiple sets of high reps of whatever weight I'm at, and not go for the 5 rep style strength training. I do feel weak. But I feel the exertion in my arms. My sternal aches are the worst during the night and in the morning from side sleeping. 

    David, yes, it's the side sleeping that gets me. As it's effectively a requirement for my apnea (yes I even I used my bipap in open heart ICU recovery) this challenges me every night/morning as I can't roll over naturally, acquire aches > pain, and take some real time to feel myself every morning. I tell you though, if I use my bipap for at least three days straight I can take 30 points off my systollic and 10 beats off my heart rate. It's the best therapy I can't stand. 

    Again, thanks guys. This has been a lot and it's nice to hear from folks on the other side of it. 

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