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its been 5 years since my heart bypass,,,,i have been having pain in my chest that i know isnt related to any heart problem but my doctor has insist that i get stress tests anytime i complain about this,,,,recently I have been really doing exercises and the pain is more severe,, i know its related to bone or muscle in my chest, anytime i use my chest muscle i feel the pain, its the same pain i felt during the first year after my bypass,,, and its all related to how they stitched me up afterward,,anyone else had these issues 5 years after heart bypass?

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I read your post tonight after searching the web for someone who has experienced similar symptoms as I've been having intermittently since I had my
bypass in 1998. The symptoms seem to get worse whenever I have any sort of viral infection, or during the winter months. My doctor simply mentions the possibility of costochondritis exacerbated by the surgery, or a sternum that has not properly healed. I am looking to find a doctor who is willing to do more than just tell me what it might be. I recently had a stress test with all the scans so it cannot be my heart. It is indeed the same sort of pain I felt during the first year of my bypass. I would love to find a doctor who is sympathetic to this issue and who could offer some solutions or suggestions. I'm thinking about asking for one of these 3D cat scan procedures. Perhaps, they can get a good look inside without reverting to surgery. Whenever the pain becomes more acute, I do have some gastric symptoms and often times missed heartbeats, along with chest wall sensitivity when the area is touched.

Would love to know what you've done since you posted, and if the symptoms still persist. I feel quite uncomfortable having to deal with this. :-@
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Health Ace
6880 posts
Since the original poster was a guest I doubt he/she can even find this post anymore. I had a bypass in 1996 and they screwed up the little tailbone that sticks down from the middle of the sternum. It grows longer as you age and can be popped in and out by tightening your stomach muscles. They left it sticking outward like a finger pushing out against the skin. It was P-A-I-N-F-U-L for the first few years and I still cannot sleep on my belly or my back due to the skin pulling down against it when I lie on my back. It still hurts a bit if I lean against it.

I guess most of us have our own individual problems caused by cracking the chest.

At first I used to have terrible bouts of nausea and even got my doctor to prescribe something that cost $14 a bottle to combat it. A bottle held only two doses :-( Then one day I hit it against the bottom of steering wheel while sitting in the car waiting for my wife. That by itself was really painful but about 4 hours later I experienced the nausea again for the first time in weeks. I finally put the nausea together with touching the protruding piece of bone as a verified four hour delayed event.

I got an appointment with the surgeon who did the CABG to complain about the problem. He said the bump on my stomach was a hiatal hernia which was a common side effect after that surgery and said they could fix it with another operation for about $20,000. I politely declined his offer and his diagnosis. I told him it was not soft like a hernia and I was sure it was bone.

A few years later I mentioned the pain to my RNP at the VA and she scheduled some xrays. On the side xray you could plainly see the little tailbone sticking outward. They called it a deflected sternum.

Of course I still still have it :-S Doctors don't give a sh*t and they don't have to guarantee their work like the rest of us do. (I fix TVs.)

I also get aches in the area of the Skilsaw craftsmanship. Usually when the barometer changes and when I lay on my side working under my car for a while. When the rib cage changes shape from doing that, the wires they laced it up with pull as it returns back to it's normal shape. If you've seen what your chest looks like on an xray you will see why. The wire laces look like shoe laces in the way the paratroopers laced their boots when I was in the Army. It's a good predictor of coming storms. Your whole insides look like a 2 YO kid had his first experience playing with a stapler.

The two sides of my rib cage didn't heal back in place evenly. I used to be able to feel them move back and forth at first and when they finally stuck together the left side protrudes out past the right side by about 1/8 inch. I can feel it easily up near my collar bone.

All in all I can't complain though. I'm relatively comfortable after all that surgery. The left breast which was numb for several months has regained it's feeling and the nerves that were damaged are no longer painful. I have heard of others who experience constant pain from the damaged nerves so I feel lucky there.

They must have cut the wires to my body thermostat because I am no longer cold when I go outside in zero degree F weather. I know they removed my short term memory. I can't remember hardly anything now that happened a few minutes or hours ago.

It was very frustrating right after the operation. I was never able to get a straight answer about anything from a doctor and nurses are afraid to tell you anything even if they know the answer. Whenever I mentioned anything that concerned me to a doctor, all he did was act like he was taking notes and nod his head.

I did get a lot of GOOD information from the nurses at cardiac rehab exercise class though. They were probably the most helpful people I have encountered.
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Wow!. You've described so much of what I've experienced. The "tailbone" that you referred to is called a Xiphoid. Some of the abdominal muscles are attached to it. In the younger crowd it's cartilage. As you age it becomes more like a bone.(ossifies). I'm with you in your assessment of the level of concern doctors have about our complaints. My surgery was done by Dr. Oz, who, as you know has become a television star. Sometimes I feel like writing to him so that he can make this issue a topic on his television program. I'm sure many people in his listening audience has had Bypass surgery. After I read your article I checked my Taber's medical dictionary ( a hold over from when I practiced nursing) and discovered that Xiphoiditis is an actual disease entity that causes the xiphoid to become inflamed, hence a possible cause for chest wall discomfort, etc. Next time I see the doctor, perhaps I'll ask him about this. Perhaps, it'll cause him to review his Medicine 101 notes :-D

Isn't awful that we must become our own diagnosticians, especially with all the money doctors are paid to have the answers.

Thanks for you reply.

God bless,
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Hi lish1, it's nice to talk to someone who has experienced it and can write about it rationally. About that Xiphoid thing. I knew that --- it was just lost in that memory problem somewhere. o.O

I agree about being your own diagnostician. It's a shame that doctors appear to NOT be listening or concerned about things you mention. Maybe they are afraid to offer opinions due to the legal wrangling they are subjected to now.

I was amazed at the precision of many things that were done, that I would have expected to be individual traits. They seemed to know exactly how long I would experience certain aspects that I thought would vary greatly depending on the individual. I escaped from the hospital a day early because I was able to pass the stair climbing test with ease. I had no clothes that morning when my wife came to visit and they asked if I wanted to go home. They gave me two johnnies a robe and a phone number to call and I was out the door after they pulled all the things out of me. They had all those sticky things on my chest that wired me up for monitoring. She had a devil of a time getting 2 of them off. When I mentioned that later, my wife said those had wires on them that went inside me. So I guess they were a direct connection for defib if it was needed. They gave me exactly the right number of pain pills to take except they didn't take the early release day into account so I bought a prescription for more and only took ONE pill. They were expensive too. I don't know what they were but my wife's kid sister saw them in our medicine chest and her eyes glazed over and she began drooling. So they must have been something good and I knew I had to dispose of them before she got ahold of them.

The first thing that happened was I nearly fell down getting into the shower on my second day home. We called about that and I was told to sit up in bed and get up slowly. I had never been on BP meds before and was not familiar with the "old mans high". That's what us old guys on BP pills call it when you get up after working on the floor and you get a real rush. You know it's coming so you just get grip on something solid until it passes.

Next was when I was watching TV and I realized I couldn't make out exactly what I was looking at but it went away in a minute. The next day I was in the "reading room" when I couldn't make out the words in the exact center of my vision. It was all broken up with moving colored sprinkles like you get on an ice cream cone. They slowly opened into a circle that was OK in the center and it kept expanding until it disappeared out the sides of my vision. I realized that was the same thing that bothered me while watching TV but the color and motion aspects were not noticable looking at the color TV screen. I called about that and never got an answer. In fact I have never been able to get an explaination for it, not even from my eye doctor. It has only happened a couple times in the 15 years since.

Side effects from the BP pills and fighting with my GP over the dose and how many to take has occupied too much of my time since the operation. I have normal BP except when I'm in his office, which is a well known phenomenon. I understand them putting me on them on my release from the hospital to keep the heart suppressed while the tubing heals but I couldn't lie down to sleep at night because I couldn't breath. When I accidentally discovered that was caused my the second pill they had me taking I had a devil of a time getting him to agree to let me do away with it.

In cardiac rehab I was able to do 13 flights on the stair stepper without getting out of breath but at home when I ran up one flight to the bathroom during a commercial I was panting like a teen age boy on his first date. Rehab was on the 4th floor and after walking a half mile from the patient parking lot I used to run up the three flights, two steps at a time. The rehab nurses told me that was the BP pills causen that and I was off for round two with my GP about the second pill again.

In addition the leg they took the vein out of, really swells up when I'm taking the second pill but hardly at all without it. He still wants to slip that one in every so often. I acquiesce, and later we have to go another round about it. I just don't see the need for the extra pill when my BP is OK every where except in his office.

There was a funny thing I noticed while in rehab. I kept up with rehab for several years after the insurance company quit paying because I felt it was good exercise and I enjoyed it. Of course there were several nurses working there and they always took our BP before starting. Eventually I noticed that mine was always a little higher when the one who turned me on, took it. I mentioned that to some of the other guys and some of them noticed it too.

All in all it's been a very interesting ride and I feel quite lucky. I had no damage to my heart and I can do all the things I want to do. I have only an inverted "T" to show I had a heart attack, plus the scars of course.
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Hi Lish1,

I had my quad performed at the same hospital by dr Stewart about 5 years ago, and have the same symptoms. My nuclear stress tes is normal, echo is good, but my sternum is a problem since the beginning. Its stiff, have some pains, worse when the weather changes, and during colds. My cardiologist told me its not common but approx 5% have it after CABG. I saw my surgeon only once
after the surgery, so you still see dr Oz, what kind of checkup he gives you if any, or treatments? Would be very interested to
view your answer!

Gold1.
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Hi, Gold1

No, Dr. Oz also saw me once after my surgery. I have met him in a non-professional capacity when he lectured in Cooperstown, N.Y. Needless to say he is much,much thinner now, but still the personable, engaging physician he was back then before his celebrity status. However, when I went back to have a stent put in a few years back, I was given over to one of his associates.  It's my  understanding that Dr. Oz does surgery only, and does not have a regular patient roster.

 

Be well,

Lillian

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had bypass surgery 10 years ago. Now 72 and ache, sometimes burning feeling under breast bone. Had these symptoms for over 10 years and seems when I go outside when cold it starts or when laying down at night. Most of the time ibroprophine helps, but recently change in weather or cold starts up again more frequently as I get older. Also thought could be inguinal hernia because sometimes when sleeping have heart burn when eating at night.

The only time pressures seem to rise is when ache or pain is bad. Pressures are borderline high. Must talk this over with a doctor, but this condition has been around for about 10 years and getting worse.
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Since I last posted, much has happened to give me an expanded view of what's causing my chest discomfort. Some of it is definitely related to weather changes and climate conditions. Exposure to cold, even when I'm dressed appropriately can trigger chest discomfort/aches that I feel with movement that involves chest muscles.

Another very interesting thing happened recently when I had a sonogram of my chest. Two days after the test, I developed severe chest discomfort that I that was cardiac related. Subsequently, I had all sorts of test done, including a Coronary CT Scan that showed quite clearly what my arteries looked like. Perhaps, it was a good thing that I had the test because it's caused me to go on Dr. Ornish's Reversing Heart Condition diet. However, that was not the cause for my pain. Pressure from the probe on the chest wall during the sonogram triggered nerve damage discomfort and stretching to reach the highest shelf in my kitchen also causes discomfort. Apparently much was done during bypass surgery to nerves, bones, and cartilage that remain sensitive and I suppose more susceptible to stimuli as we age.

There's an excellent study going on regarding sternal pain, a subject that until recently was never addressed. If anyone wants more information, please e-mail me at _[removed]_
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Did someone say study? I love studies.

I've been in a couple Lipitor studies. The first was about a year after the surgery when my insurance was going to stop paying for the Lipitor and I was scrambling for a way to get the cholesterol pills at a price I could afford. I saw an ad in the paper looking for someone who has had heart surgery and was on cholesterol meds but no other problems. I thought: they're looking for me. They accepted me in the study and I got free Lipitor for several years. It was a study to see if the effects of high doses of Lipitor had any side effects compared to lower doses. Some of us were getting 10mg and some of us 80mg but none of us knew who.

A few years later they called me from the same office to tell me about another Pfizer study they felt I qualified for.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1702474/

That was one terrific drug. It's a shame they had to drop it. Again only some of us were getting the drug while the others got a placebo. We were not allowed to see the results of the blood work and neither was the doctor who was administering it. However I did get to see my own blood workups from the VA where I was going every 6 months for regular physicals. I had my first VA blood work 2 months after beginning the torcetrapib and the changes were so significant I knew I was getting the good stuff. My HDL had doubled, LDL had gone down into the 30s and total was below 100.

I haven't found any more studies to participate in but I'm always looking. You can expect to hear from me.

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I am 7 years post op and have the same issues. I used to think the old problems had returned but Im gradually getting used to it. The discomfort can last a few weeks then disappears. Maybe its due to weather conditions and sometimes it may be the way I have somehow applied pressure, but it definately isnt heart related
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The question is it coronary or muscle bone related ache. Will see cardiologist soon. Maybe run some tests and get answer.



Roid
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AlthoughI believe the symptoms I've described for myself are NOT cardiac related, I would not suggest that to anyone else. It's always best to rule out something more serious before coming to any conclusions. So, yes, check with your doctor.
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hi glad to know its not just me 3 years after surgery still in pain cant lay on my side in bed and cannot straighten up without pain.was sent to see shrink they said it was all in my head. 2 mri scans and 3 ct scans later i have sternum not fused and two stress fractures. now been sent back to see my heart surgon hope this helps keep insisting on scans let you know what happens jeff.
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I originally wrote this post and its like 8 years later and i still get this pain like every month mostly in morning and comes out of no where. One Dr just said "what do you expect after having your chest cut open" I guess he is right, letting these drs cut you open I must only expect problems, they will not look into it any further after all i am just another person. Maybe if I had more cash or better influence in the world of  entertainment or the press maybe i could get more attention, oh well
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