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Other mental issues after coronary bypass surgery

Coronary Bypass Recovery: What to Expect: Page 5

By , Caring.com senior editor
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Decreased mental function

What you can expect: It's not uncommon for people recovering from heart surgery to feel they aren't as mentally "sharp" as they were before the operation. Heart surgery puts a great deal of stress on the entire body -- including the brain.

What you can do:

  • The best way you can help is to reassure him that his cognitive skills will return with time. Just as the body needs time to recover, so does the brain. Meanwhile, you might relieve some of the pressure by taking over mentally challenging tasks like paying bills.

  • Talk to the doctor. Some medications, including beta-blockers, can decrease mental function. His doctor may be able to prescribe a different medication.

Anxiety and worry about the future

What you can expect: It's normal for a person to feel fearful after heart surgery. He may be worried that the surgery wasn't successful or that he won't recover. He may be afraid that he'll develop future complications like heart failure.

What you can do:

  • Let him talk about his fears. Don't brush off his concerns; keeping his feelings bottled up will make him feel worse. If it's difficult for you to hear his worries, help him find a support group or online community.

  • Encourage him to keep a journal. Sometimes just writing about negative feelings can defuse them.

  • Remind him -- and yourself -- that his anxiety is most likely temporary. As recovery progresses, he's probably going to feel more like himself again.

  • Encourage him to get back into a normal routine as soon as possible. Getting dressed first thing in the morning, going for a walk outside, resuming favorite hobbies, and socializing with family and friends are all excellent ways to relieve fear and anxiety.

  • If his anxiety persists for more than four weeks, talk to his doctor. He may need counseling or antidepressant treatment.