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Question
Posted by: Want to Know | 2012/09/18

Heart Attack followed by Quintuple Bypass - 2 1/2 weeks later

My father-in-law suffered a massive heart attack and after he was stabilised he had a Quintuple Bypass (about 2 1/2 weeks ago). Everytime he is stable and they move him from ICU to a general ward, his heart rythm becomes erratic, he has trouble breathing, his lungs fill up with fluid (obviously explains breathing problems), his blood pressure shoots up (probably due to the strain on his organs). This results in him being moved back to ICU where he is ventilated, receives oxygen, has drainage pipes inserted to gradually remove the fluid from his lungs and he receives tube feeding. The doctor is extremely busy (READ: not available to discussion the situation) and the nurses, though friendly, just advise that he " is now stable" . What I want to know is, how long will this rollercoaster last of moving him between ICU and General Ward. He is literally in a General Ward from ICU for a couple of hours before they move him back to ICU to be supported by all the additional mechanisms. In my (non medical) opinion, he should be performing these functions by himself and he is not really " doing well"  if he cannot function on his own and ends up in ICU the whole time. On the positive side, his fever (which was a problem) seems to be under control for the moment, but also probably due to the intravenous antibiotics. Is this normal, as all of the patients admitted the same time or after him have been discharged. It is now going for his 3rd week in the hospital and it would be great to receive a medical opinion (even though it will probably be difficult without charts and full disclosure of information). How long is this supposed to last. Everytime my mother-in-law and husband gets their hopes up when he " is doing extremely well"  but he only does extremely well when on the support.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCardiologist

Dear Want to Know

I am sorry to hear your father-in-law is not doing well. Coronary bypass surgery after a major heart attack is always a major undertaking, and I am sure the heart attack your father-in-law had before the bypass accounts for the fact that he is not doing well.

The heart rhythm problem that is causing trouble is most likely to be atrial fibrillation, an irregular and usually fast heart rhythm which causes the heart to pump less efficiently and thus in patients with damaged hearts aggravates any tendency to heart failure.

Without more details it is impossible for me to say how long this will go on for. However, there is no excuse for the doctors looking after him being unavailable to discuss the situation. I would suggest you phone and ask to speak to him/her. Failing that, make an appointment to see him/her! Patients and their relatives have a right to expect communication from the doctors looking after them.

Good treatment is not good enough without good communication.

I hope things go better for him.

Best wishes, JT

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Our users say:
Posted by: Cardiologist | 2012/09/26

Dear Want to Know

I am sorry to hear your father-in-law is not doing well. Coronary bypass surgery after a major heart attack is always a major undertaking, and I am sure the heart attack your father-in-law had before the bypass accounts for the fact that he is not doing well.

The heart rhythm problem that is causing trouble is most likely to be atrial fibrillation, an irregular and usually fast heart rhythm which causes the heart to pump less efficiently and thus in patients with damaged hearts aggravates any tendency to heart failure.

Without more details it is impossible for me to say how long this will go on for. However, there is no excuse for the doctors looking after him being unavailable to discuss the situation. I would suggest you phone and ask to speak to him/her. Failing that, make an appointment to see him/her! Patients and their relatives have a right to expect communication from the doctors looking after them.

Good treatment is not good enough without good communication.

I hope things go better for him.

Best wishes, JT

Reply to Cardiologist
Posted by: Just me | 2012/09/18

Hi " I want to know" 
I feel so much for you and your family in this situation. My dad (at the time 74 years old) had a quintuple bypass 2 years ago. He was for 6 weeks in ICU with these kind of problems, the bypass operation really took a toll on him and his health (was quite healthy BEFORE the operation!). I also feel with you with the fact " that the heart surgeon and cardiologists are too busy to speak to the family. Frankly I feel these type of specialists think that if YOU are not a specialist that your IQ is 12!! After week 3 I stopped the heart surgeon who operated on my dad and visited him to check on him twice or more a day, in the passage (he first showed me hand-signs that he cannot speak now, but believe me I stopped him!!! At that time I was so frustrated that I wanted to smack him in his face!). I asked him what I wanted to know to get clarity AND informed him that it is his JOB to let us also know what is happening with my dad and that by that time his and the hospital''s bill was around R600 000!!!! So he DOES get remunerated to share his knowledge with those who needs to get clarity! These people must realise that at that moment (like in my dad''s case) it felt that my dad''s life is in the dr''s hands and I did not want to be rude, BUT I handed him over to the MEDIAL BOARD afterwards. They can sort his attitude out! Long story short, my dad died a year later.
I don''t want to tell you anything bad, your father-in-law will recover and get strong again, but please realise that this hospital and dr gets paid A LOT of money, they should deliver a service to the public.
Good luck

Reply to Just me
Posted by: I WANT TO KNOW | 2012/09/18

Just as additional information - he is 65 years of age, he has hereditary high cholesterol, but he has been a vegan for the last 30 years and he does not smoke. Most of the males in their family dies of heart attacks and do not live beyond the age of 45 / 50. This is specifically why he adjusted his life style 30 years ago to live extremely clean and healthy. He is, however, extremely thin and has lost additional weight over the last couple of weeks and seems to be very weak at the moment (but understandably so)

Reply to I WANT TO KNOW

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