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Date of last update: 10/20/2017.

Forum Name: Cardiology Diagnostics

Question: 15-20% Heart Strength after quadruple bypass surgery

 drlgu - Fri Sep 12, 2008 9:20 pm

My Mom had quadruple bypass surgery in early 2000. She was fine and then diagnosed with diabetes in early 2005 and in late 2006 had to begin dialysis 3 days a week. In February 2008, she went in for triple bypass surgery. She spent about 30 days in the hospital recovering and then returned for another 15 days and finally was fitted for a pace maker. Her Cardilogist said her heart is significantly weaker than prior to the surgery. He recently informed her that her heart is operating at approximately 15-20% after performing some tests and there is nothing she can do to strengthen it. My Mom is now 64 year olds and I do not believe there is nothing she can do to strengthen her heart. This diagnosis of "nothing you can do" has negatively impacted her confidence in any hope of getting back to a semi-normal lifestyle. Do you have any advice? Is there really nothing that can be done?
 John Kenyon, CNA - Fri Oct 03, 2008 11:23 pm

User avatar Hello -

I think the first thing we need is some clarification of terms. You (or your mother) need to determine if the doctor actually means the heart is functioning at 15-20% of its former capacity, then that needs to be qualified somehow. If, on the other hand, he meant the left ventricular ejection fraction is at 15-20 (not a per cent figure) this would be more concrete and would tell me the heart is severely compromised.

Even if this is the case, there do exist some therapies to strengthen a failing heart muscle. There are medications that are often used, there are even devices which can sometimes either improve the cardiac output or at least give the weakened heart a break so it can hopefully regain some of its strength. I can well understand your mother feeling demoralized by this bleak outlook, and I wonder if there isn't a second opinion (perhaps at a more sophisticated medical center) that could help. Your mother is really pretty young to be in such dire circumstances, and I would very much like to know what took place during (or rior to) the second bypass surgery that might have caused such a dramatic drop in output.

If there are any additional facts you can think of, that might be helpful. I can't imagine a heart considered a candidate for bypass surgery that afterward would work so much worse than before the surgery without there being some other factor involved. I also feel that making a flat, factual statement that there is "nothing you can do" is a dangerous and utterly unhelpful act. The mental outlook of the patient is a huge part of the potential recovery process and telling a patient something like this does nothing to help, that much is for sure.

Please follow up with us as needed. Best of luck to you and your mother.

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