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Heart & Cardiology/Post-CABG/Psychological connection?


Hello Dr. T,

I am a 57 yr old male now 2 yrs removed from Triple Bypass Surgery and I am still experiencing symptoms that seem to defy explanation.  

I first noticed a difference soon after my surgery, which a week later I underwent an additional Cardiac Ablation procedure to correct A-fib.  The symptoms are mainly psychological, which my doctors have no explanation for why they suddenly appeared.  I regularly experience severe mood swings, and at times I will break down and cry while watching a TV commercial, or anything that may be so-called, a "tear jerker" moment.  Before my surgery I did not react in this way.  Sometimes I will break down and cry while thinking of something sad that happened in my past, or anything that may be making me sad in the present.

Additionally, I experience severe sweating, or hot flashes, during stressful situations.  My ability to handle stress is almost zero, so these hot flashes occur on a regular basis. Also during stress, I experience shortness of breath, heart palpitations, and panic/anxiety attacks.  Stress tests as well as a Holter Monitor have failed to reveal any heart related cause to these symptoms.

It was mentiioned to me by an ER nurse at the hospital I work at that emotional aftereffects are normal following open heart surgery.  In your experience, is this true?  I certainly have been experiencing these things and was hoping it was temporary but they have persisted now for more than 2 yrs.  What is your opinion?

Thank you.

Hi Gary,
Unless your doctors have demonstrated some brain injury following the surgery such as a (mini) stroke and consequences thereof, I have no idea what this could be caused by. In 30+ years practice as a Cardiac surgeon, I have not noticed your prolonged symptoms before. Therefore I believe they are more likely related to issues better discussed with a psychologist.
Hope this helps,
Dr T

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