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Post surgery heart failure
My husband had Mitral Valve replacement June 4th. He was a high risk patient due to his endocarditis and very weakened state before surgery. He came home and seemed to be doing ok. We were focused on him gaining back weight and getting stronger. Thursday he went to have his follow up Echo and EKG. The reports were online yesterday morning. The EKG shows a MI has taken place and his Echo shows an Ejection fraction of 25-30% compared to 65% pre surgery. I called Surgeons office but closed till Tuesday . A PA called me back 5 hours later and told me she didn't have reports but not to worry that sometimes they over read studies. I am working myself up in a frenzy over this of course and the only thing I can think of doing is take him to the ER which he does not want to do. I am trying to read articles about post surgery complications . Has anyone had similar circumstances?
AHAASAKatie, July 6, 2020 10:03am EST
I am so sorry that you had to experience this!. I can share the information we have on heart valve disease with you. I know the decision on when to go to the ER is a real struggle. Is he having any discomfort or pain now or is it the results of the testing that has you so concerned?
While we can't provide medical advice on the Support Network, I can share that the ER is open and a safe environment if you decided to have him checked out, just to be on the safe side.
I ended up doing that this weekend with my mother, her COPD flared and she went for a breathing treatment and a quick in. It was hard not being able to go in with her, but now she was released on the same day, home and much more comfortable and the environment was very safe.
Please keep us updated on how he is doing and your decision. We are here to listen and support you both. Best Katie
TomBroussard, July 6, 2020 11:00am EST
Hi, I am so sorry for this happening! It is never a happy time to have surgery in the first case, never mind the complications (and the worry) that comes from any number of different kinds of surgery. All things considered, as Katie mentioned, our local ER is ready (and likely more than ready since the virus) to help if you are in need.
Hopefully, you can get connected tomorrow (Tuesday) with your surgeon if you and your spouse are comfortable for today. But if not, your local ER stands ready for you. All of us who have had our own (or family’s) share of serious health problems, stands with you too.
Sharing our stories is often the least we can do…yet sometimes the least can still be helpful just hearing from others. We are thinking of you, your spouse and your family working through this together. Please let us know how it is going…Best, Tom B.
AmbassadorB, July 6, 2020 3:37pm EST
I read the comment that Dr. Broussard left for you. I couldn't have said it - as well. Your husband's comfort is important! He should be experiencing no pain - resulting from recent surgery, a month ago, and hopefully no discomfort from any recent activity or pandemic virus. The virus can impact us in different ways (I have read) and I would be alert to any coughing, or chest tightness that he may be experiencing. Since you should be able to contact your medical personnel tomorrow, that will, of course, be your priority move. The only thing that I would add, would be: Take care of yourself! Relax, and rest! No setting off any fire-crackers or Roman Candles! Your strength, positive outlook and encouragement for your husband are most important for the two of you, at this moment.
Post surgical complications are not routine! You're a month past his mitral valve replacement, and any complications from that surgery now would be unusual, I believe. I am not a professional medical person, although I have had several cardiac surgeries and am thankful for the amazing progress that we are benefitting from in the cardiac valve repair/replacement world today.
All the best!
Ambassador B (Bernie)
AmbassadorDN, July 6, 2020 3:41pm EST
I'm so sorry that you and your husband are dealing with this situation! As both Katie and Tom expressed above, hospitals are equipped to handle both COVID and non-COVID emergencies during this time. Recently my best friend's father had a stroke and was taken to the ER. He is doing well now, but he has said that he had never felt safer in an ER. The prospect is scary, but remember that ER staff want to minimize risk of COVID not only to themselves but to patients coming in.
It's easy to get worked up about any negative changes in our heart health after surgery--I have had three heart valve surgeries myself and have had complications after the fact, so I can relate on some level. However, I'm concerned that your husband's echo report was uploaded to the patient portal (I'm assuming) without your husband's cardiologist or surgeon discussing the test results with you first. That should not happen because giving patients and families access to test results without your doctor, nurse, or any other related medical professional discussing the results with you first can cause what you are experiencing right now: worry. An example: Recently myself I had a cancer scare and had to have an MRI to diagnose the situation. My doctor's PA called me first to discuss the MRI results before the office uploaded the report to the patient portal. Thankfully everything was fine, but in your husband's case, the PA or surgeon should have discussed the test results with you first before uploading the report so as not to cause you worry.
I do understand your worry because on the report, your husband's EF can be alarming. However, in many cases, the EF can be a rough estimate and hopefully your husband's surgeon can clarify when you do speak with him/her. From experience, as a patient's heart heals from heart valve surgery (in the months post-op), the EF can fluctuate from low to high. And since your husband's heart was affected by endocarditis prior to surgery, his heart has a lot of healing to do, probably even more so than a person who had no cardiac complications prior to a heart valve surgery.
If your husband is experiencing worrisome symptoms, then it would be wise to visit the ER. In the meantime, try not to research too much online since the information you may find can only exacerbate your worries. I hope you can get a hold of the surgeon's office tomorrow and get your concerns and worries addressed.
I wish you and your husband the best, and please keep us updated. Feel free to ask any other questions you may have.
To Heart and Soul Health,
Ambassador DN (Debra)
AmbassadorC, July 7, 2020 7:00am EST
A warm welcome to the support network, as you are among a community of heart warriors that have been there and done that and armed with support to carefgivers such as yourself. My fellow ambassadors have provided very wise insights based on their experiences. For me, I suffered many post surgical complications after my mitral valve repair. Looking back on my experience, I would offfer that if something doesn’t feel right, don’t delay or minimize. Encourage your husband to be his own advocate and speak up. While worry can be very unsettling re the fear of the unknown, communication is key. I’m hopeful you get some answers to your questions. Be persistent if you still do not understand. What I have learned is that you must keep in touch with your team and if the team isn’t available, symptoms still persist, he must seek medical attention. Don’t let doubt deter you, or him. When I’m doubt, get it checked out. The more you / he becomes knowledgeable, the more you have control. Remember that every “body” heals differently, and your husband should not feel he cannot speak up if something doesn’t feel right.
Please know we are here for you both. Keep on fighting on heartbeat at a time and don’t give up. ❤️