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Abnormal Heart Rhythm after Open-Heart Surgery

Updated: Nov 12, 2021

One of the most common problems that can happen after open-heart surgery is an abnormal heart rhythm. We each have a built-in electrical system in our heart that controls our heartbeat. After open-heart surgery, the electrical signals that control the heartbeat can become abnormal and cause an abnormal heart rhythm. Abnormal heart rhythms are also called "arrhythmias."

Symptoms of an abnormal heart rhythm include:

· feeling like your heart is racing, skipping beats, or beating out of sync.
· dizziness or lightheadedness
· chest or neck discomfort
· mild shortness of breath
· weakness or fatigue

More severe symptoms include:

·shortness of breath at rest,
·chest pain,
or fainting.

Medications for abnormal heart rhythms:

While you were in the hospital, your doctor may have started you on a medication to control your heart rhythm or your heart rate. Examples of these types of medications include beta-blockers like Metoprolol, calcium channel blockers such as Verapamil or Diltiazem, anti-arrhythmic drugs like Amiodarone, or digitalis glycosides such as Digoxin. You may also have a blood-thinner prescribed to you like Xarelto, Eliquis, or Coumadin.These medications should be taken as directed by your doctor.

What should you do if you’re having symptoms of an abnormal heart rhythm?

If you are experiencing these mild symptoms:
· feeling like your heart is racing, skipping beats, or beating out of sync.
· dizziness or lightheadedness,
· chest or neck discomfort,
· mild shortness of breath,
· weakness or fatigue,
please call your Cardiologist or Surgeon to discuss your plan of care.

If you are experiencing severe symptoms:

·shortness of breath at rest,
·chest pain,
or fainting,
please call 9-1-1 immediately or go to the nearest Emergency Department.

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