Heart surgery and personality changes

Dr T Ask Doctor T 77 Comments

Question:

My husband had a heart attack 17 yrs. ago at age 37. He had a 5-way bypass surgery at age 40. After the surgery there was a drastic change in his personality. I expected that recovery would take a little while, but he was completely different.  He went from being an easy-going, sharp, good-natured person to very angry and abusive. I was very confused and tried to get info from Drs., etc. but no one seemed to know what was going on, and didn’t take it very seriously. Instead of getting better, he kept getting worse, and his personality was completely different. He wasn’t the same person at all. We had a lot of problems for years. He has gotten better little by little, and no longer has the anger problem, but he isn’t the same person at all. He’s not nearly as sharp as he was and his personality is completely different.Do you have any idea what’s going on with him? It makes me very sad because I feel like I have lost my best friend.

Answer:

Hi Ginny,
I am so sorry to hear about this. The kind of changes your husband suffered after his bypass surgery are most likely caused by mini strokes. A small percentage of patients complain of mental changes that may be the result of new mini-strokes, also called transient ischemic attacks (TIA), because the symptoms are like those of a stroke but do not last long. A TIA happens when blood flow to part of the brain is blocked or reduced, often by a blood clot. After a short time, blood flows again and the symptoms go away. With a stroke, the blood flow stays blocked, and the brain has permanent damage. In your husband’s case it appears permanent damage may have happened.

A study, published in 2001 indicated that half of people undergoing bypass surgery developed memory or thinking problems in the days following it, and that these problems were occasionally still evident five years later. Another study found that short-term confusion, memory loss, and poorer problem solving and information processing may happen in some patients after bypass surgery, but are usually temporary and reversible. Most people return to their pre-bypass level of function between 3 and 12 weeks after surgery. Long-term changes occur, too, but these are usually mild and tend to affect things such as how fast you can solve problems or process information.

It doesn’t help for you to know that this is a rare event, certainly to the extent you mention:
Treatment starts with, first of all, recognizing the problem and is aimed preventing other strokes and help with functional rehabilitation. If indeed his problems were a direct result of the surgery and not associated other medical problems, full recovery should be possible.
Hope this helps,
Dr T

Comments 77

  1. Everyone, thank you for all of your candor! You all have helped me tremendously in understanding the recent changes in my husband. As many of you have mentioned the physicians do not want to discuss these side effects and/or new way of living. My husband had Cardiac Thoracic Aneurysm Surgery in April of 2020. He has miraculously rebounded physically, however in the last 3 months we have noticed short tempers, loss of memory, irrational behaviors and/or outbursts. Initially, he told me that I was blowing these behaviors out of proportions, but then it took his best friend about 3 months ago to tell him that he is not acting normally. Once he recognized it, he asked me to make him aware, each and every time. It hasn’t been easy, but I proceed forward. The medical profession is a double edge sword. Inclusive, is the reason why it is called a practice, because we are the guinea pigs. Again, thank you everyone for this forum!

  2. My husband who was 46 and married for 27 years was rushed into emergency-occluded LAD (Widow maker) CABG x5 August of 2019 with NSTEMI. His labs and B/P were all perfect (Scary, Huh). He had to have cardioversion after surgery to shock his heart back into rhythm. He had never been sick before in his life. He didn’t even take Tylenol. I am a nurse and had heard of possible personality changes in bypass patients. I’ve been with him since we were 15 (High school Sweethearts). I know him like the back of my hand. I noticed that his personality has changed slightly. He was always easy going and it took a lot to upset him. He never raised his voice unless he was really upset which was never. I strongly believe that his personality change is attributed to some depression. He complains of the meds making him tired and he has memory loss. These are side effects of his meds, but I think the surgery also played a part in this as well. I think he gets down on himself because he knows he has forgotten things. He owns his own business and is a heavy equipment mechanic. He was always non-stop and now tires easily. This is also a pride issue with him as he always worked circles around everyone, but not anymore. As a medical professional, I strongly believe that there needs to be more awareness about this and support groups for patients and their families. I appreciate listening to all of you. It helps that we aren’t alone in this.

  3. All of u need to let them have time to figure stuff out!
    Its a realization!! Lifes short so why play by the rules.
    Maybe u need to take a hard look at yourself.
    Trust me 4 years later Im a different person,……but in a good way. Got rid of my husband which was a bad relationship. I didn’t see how I was really treated until after surgery. I also got rid of people that were holding me back.
    I did have a few outbursts but for good reasons. I honestly say dying made me want a better life.
    Please give ur loved ones time.
    Maybe it will work out
    Maybe it wont
    Change is part of life.
    Focus on yourself for awhile so people with trauma can figure out how to deal.

  4. My husband has a heart attack May 10. I noticed pretty quickly that he has become very snippy and gets agitated at insignificant things. He has become disrespectful to me and has no remorse about anything he says or does. He seems to have no feelings towards me anymore and it is breaking my heart. Enough about me. I worry about him. He is so depressed and his anxiety is through the roof. He cant sleep. He worries he wont wake up. His appetite is low. He is so in tune with his body that any small, momentary change will send him into a panic about having another heart attack. Even the medications he takes now have side effects that mimic a heart attack. Somebody please help me help him. I cant find any cardiac rehab program that deals with emotional trauma after a heart attack. He is absolutely going to have another heart emergency if I cant get him some kind of help

    1. I saw all of these comments, but not one from the person who had the surgery. I had a quad bypass May 2020. I want to explain the feelings and anger.
      First of all most of us that go through this are surprised it happened to us. You look at others differently – why not them? Why can they eat endless greasy foods and not die? Why! You change your diet. The foods you love are gone. The enjoyment of all of that is gone.
      Secondly, you evaluate your life. What have I done with my life? Over the years in relationships people argue and it’s not perfect. You relive these times. You are angry at people for the hurts they caused you over the years. The nagging, the rude comments, etc. now you wish you would have done things different. Now your life is cut short. You know it and everyone else that knows you knows it. You are angry at life.
      Thirdly, you don’t want to be upset, or angry or irritable, but you hurt. The pain from surgery is not ending. Deep breaths hurt at times. You’re afraid of various pains. You want life back as before, but then you don’t. You want a new life. It’s frustrating.
      Finally, you are facing mortality. You are probably going to die before those around you. Probably not, but you think that. Most statistics show high death rates – even though many people live long normal lives. You don’t want the person closest to you to miss you. I think you want them to not like you in order for them to be happy when your gone. It’s so weird, but we want you to be happy and feel like we didn’t give you the life with us as a man you deserve. It’s so complicated emotionally.
      Show them you love them. Hug them. Smile. Have fun. Enjoy the moments. They don’t mean to be irritated. They love you, but the world has been turned upside down. They aren’t upset with you. They are upset with everyone and everything in the world. They love you so much, but are not sure what to do. Love them. That’s what they want.

      1. Jim,

        I love everything about your post. Beautifully written, a loving and kind message, and honest!

        Thank you for this! My husband recently suffered a massive heart attack and he is definitely experiencing a lot of nasty emotions.

        Your explanation and suggestions have completely redirected me to a much more kind and accepting approach.

        Many thanks! Be well.
        Jessica

      2. Thank you, Jim. Your comment made me understand my husband’s behavior better. He goes through personality changes on and off and I did not understand why. He had quadruple bypass, April 1st, 2013.

        1. Thanks Jim for sharing. All these comments have been an interesting read and in a way give me strength. My husband of 14 years underwent a 5 artery bypass, experienced major internal bleeding and was rushed back for emergency surgery. 14 hour operation. As you can expect, he returned a different man. Five years later, we are now dealing with someone who was so beautiful, but who has become aggressive, bullying, childish, angry not to say frightening. He is now taking us through the family court thinking he has to ‘save’ our young child. There certainly needs to be more research into personality and brain changes and perhaps support groups for those families and individuals experiencing such outcomes.

      3. My husband had a triple bypass 1 1/2 years ago, he has turned into a unloving, hateful person. He almost died after his heart attack, blood pressure was 47 over 29, very scary time. It’s like he is wanting to start an argument and I refuse to argue with him. He does the most weird things, just yesterday he took laundry out of the dryer, threw them on the floor and rewashed his clothes I had just washed. Luckily I have a best friend I can vent to. He even gets snippy with our grandchildren and never did that before. He refuses to watch his diet, he’s gained a lot of weight, keeps eating his bacon and sausage. I try to cook healthy and find receipts from McDonalds. These letters have helped me a lot to help me understand this may be a normal thing but it’s heartbreaking to not have the same person living here.

        1. My husband had a heart attack at 47. Before the Attack he was the most loving, caring man who I adored. Unfortunately, I noticed a change in his personality straight away. He became cold and distant. I just thought it was temporary considering what had happened to him. This continued for a few years and eventually he said he was sorry but he felt no love for me anymore and unfortunately our marriage ended.
          I was devastated to say the least.
          I still blame the heart attack and surgery as we had 25 happy, wonderful and loving years together before The attack.
          I spoke to a cardiologist about the above and he mentioned the fact that sometimes if the brain is starved of even minute quantities of oxygen during a prolonged Heart attack it is possible that it can cause a personality change.

  5. Are there books or other resources about this? My wonderful husband of over 30 years is a different person. I am so grieved and feel so helpless.

  6. Are there any books or other resources? My wonderful husband has changed in so many ways. I am just so grieved and feel helpless.

  7. He is vile, lazy, sloppy, obstinate, and argumentative. Modern medicine has saved lives and made the people around them, their lives a living hell.

  8. Gosh, after reading all the comments I’m not feeling very optimistic about my husbands recovery. It has been six weeks since his aortic dissection and open heart surgery. At first I was just so grateful he was alive but upon waking up from the intubation he was so aggressive with the hospital staff they had to restrain him. The nurses said he “used choice words” with them which is nothing like his old self, he would be mortified! When the dr would make his rounds and if I said anything during our conversation with him, my husband would roll his eyes, ignore when I was speaking, very rude to me and in front of the dr, it made everyone uncomfortable. Six weeks out and he’s still cutting with his words, cruel, very confrontational, never apologizes or feels badly for his outbursts. Very selfish, like he’s a twelve year old kid! I wish everyone well with your journeys.

    1. Just read your comment and empathise. My husband had open heart surgery in February and is a different person. Same symptoms as your husband. Nothing has been said about mini strokes but was warned short term there would be some changes. Every explosion is blamed on me and I’m told I’m over reacting. I’m going to speak to his gp about it

    2. I have been doing research about this and happened upon this website. My husband had triple bypass and Aortic valve replacement just recently. He is 56 years old and We have been married 35 years He is the most laid back, optimistic man and its hard to get him rattled. After his surgery in the hospital he was short and snappy with me, which I didn’t even let bother me due to such an invasive procedure I figured it was normal. Since being home I have witnessed the same things and funny you said acts like a 12 year old, because that’s exactly how I described him to a friend of mine. He is quick to react and can become angry so quick. I am relieved to here that this is real.. I was thinking maybe it was me and that I was just not listening or bothering him. I guess as he heals time will tell if this will be a long term affect. Blessed that he is alive and with us and his family, and hopefully this is just another hurdle we must get over. Thanks for allowing me to vent.

  9. Contributors: Google “pumphead” or “pumpbrain” which is a phenomenon associated with the aftermath of bypass surgery. For some reason, toxins or even minute pieces of plastic can enter the bloodstream when a patient is on a heart machine during bypass surgery. These toxins migrate to the brain and interfere with capillary action there. Any cardiologist can discuss pumphead with you. It’s real. It diminishes brain capacity.

  10. My soon to be ex husband is three years out from his triple bypass. His personality has been changing since that time. In the months that followed I didn’t notice a significant change but about this time last year I did, shortly before he started having an affair with a 25 year old from work (he was her mentor, she has since gotten a different job). I thought (and still think) he was having a mid life crisis and now coupled with the changes that may be caused by the heart surgery….

    I would never have described him as an easy going guy like others have described their spouses but would have described him as having a strong moral compass. Obviously he doesn’t have that now. He is extremely agitated constantly and is always trying to pick a fight. He is irritated with everyone, especially me and our kids. I know how to avoid a fight, the poor kids don’t.

    He lives his life on his work cell phone and text messages with his affair partner. What she doesn’t know, is she is next on his irritability list. Right now she’s the escape from reality, and once she becomes reality….

    1. Melissa, sounds almost the same exact thing that happened to me. Almost 2 years ago husband had triple bypass and was fine for 3 months. While I was visiting my dying mother overseas he had an affair which I found out about last Christmas. This year he wants to try again but his personality is exactly how you describe your husband’s.
      Nobody seems to know why this happens after bypass surgery

      1. I had open heart surgey and to be honest I feel like I have change and I have a bad attitude and just feel like I was all alone after I came home when I first when for surgey people say I will be here for u will they lie and now I don’t want to be social able to no one I want to be alone all the time so please some one explain why has surgey change me

    2. Hi Melissa. I know exactly what you are going through. Mine lost his mind after a triple bypass. 4 affairs. It is devastating. He has gone through tms therapy and counseling. He woke up from his surgery and told myself and his doctors that he doesn’t feel like the same person. Somehow, I am sticking by him through this. Not easy. Take care

  11. i have to agree with most of the comments above. my husband also had a CABG of 4 vessels and after a few weeks of being at home i feel that his personality has also changed. He doesnt talk to me as often and just enjoys watching countless hrs of TV. If i ask him to help with dinner as he is enrolled in dietician classes, he comes when hes good and ready and acts totally unenthused as he is standing there. His facial features are that of a lost person. we quarrel constantly. He asks me silly questions and has the worst memory now. I do not enjoy his company in the least at this present time.

  12. I am the family member who had stents put in my heart this week. I have become mean spirited and uncaring. I cry a lot even though I have been on meds successfully for years. I feel the depression. I have driven out my sister who lived with me and I am so apathetic that I don’t even care. I don’t want to see family and friends. My appetite is gone and my sleep is nonexisitant. I know you all have problems with your heart patient family members. My heart aches for you. Try being on the otherside and being out of control and knowing it. Thinking maybe getting a new lease on a life that isn’t worth it afterall….

    1. I had a triple bypass in January. After the surgery I begged family and nurses to just let me die to “just kill me. Let me die.” I don’t really remember saying all that. I was told how horrible I was. After I was somewhat ‘normal’ I was told it was the anesthesia.
      I feel like I’m losing my mind. I didn’t and don’t feel the same as I did pre-surgery. I say wtf to myself several times a day. I find myself getting angry and just try to breath through it. I’m not interested in anything. I don’t have the will to do anything. It is slightly comforting that there are indeed others in the same boat with me.

  13. Wow! So it is real! My 62 yr old husband had quadruple bypass November 2018 and he isn’t who I married. He has changed. He acts like a 12 year old. He has little consideration for anyone but himself. He spends $$ like we are made of it. A few of our friends see a little change but no one thinks its as much as I say it is. I am trying hard to get used to a new normal but I am afraid doing so is harming me. Kinda feeling lost and have no one to talk to that would understand. They said that he could be better within a year but i don’t see that happening in the next 30 days. My biggest fear is that this surgery has brought on dementia and this is what i have to look forward to for as long as one or the other of us is alive.
    I wish you all a good life.

  14. My husband had bypass surgery in 2002. He was sweet and loving before going into surgery. After in the hospital he started yelling at me and the nurses. I figured this was temporary, but when he got home it continued. He has been abusive, angry, depressed, different personality, never happy any more, and insulting. The list goes on and on. He asked for a divorce years ago. I was accepting of it. He then never spoke of it again. We moved to a different house. He just gets worse as the years go by. I have had it hard. I feel I lost my best friend. He’s never coming back. I tried talking to his Dr back in 2004 and many more times. The Dr said he was too young for any dementia. He was 57. I just in last 3 years realize all this has been after bypass. I know I’m right. He’s not the man I married. I pray and cry everyday. Some days better than others. I need a support group. Is there such a thing for this type of disease? Why are we not warned? I had an awful feeling before his bypass that when they took his heart out he wouldn’t love me anymore.

    1. Mary, My husband had heart surgery nearly 5 years ago and he’s never been the same, was angry and has been getting worse and talking about divorce since about 7 months ago. People described us as the best matched, fun, happy couple before. He turned into a self-obsessed, angry, entitled child. The worst is when he says he never really wanted to marry me 32 years ago. I have hand made cards from him and memories and experiences that completely show that to be false, another manifestation of his mood disorder. We were best friends who traveled all over and shared the same interests. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I wish you the best, it’s not your fault, take care, stay strong. – Mary

  15. Christie, it sounds like I could have written your post. Life is just not the same since my husbands CABG, nor do I see it changing, He’s literally like the proverbial Jekyll & Hyde, i have had to go on Antidepressants as well. The past 3 yrs have been so hard, but where there’s a will there’s a way, or so they say!!

  16. After reading these posts the obvious point is that these are mostly partners of, or family members of heart patients. I am the heart patient and don’t know if perspective from the “Other side ” will help any of you but it may help me. Before my 2015 heart attack I thought I was strong and healthy, being knocked down in a hurry and having emergency surgery for a stent placement started my head spinning. How could this happen to me? I was overweight, did not smoke but ate all the wrong stuff. Two years later, heart failure and then a quadruple bypass. Down again. Everything I ever saw in myself was gone. Or so I thought. My physical strength and endurance didn’t seem to exist anymore. I had to learn a whole new way to live and at first I fought it. I had an amazing team in my 12 week rehab and went from barely lasting a couple minutes on a treadmill to being the shining example for the rest of my group and going strong for the hour and a half on a variety of equipment. On the other end of things my partner started devising ways to make me try things I was sure I hated only to find out you can eat healthy and actually like it. I shed 45 pounds and after two years have kept 35 of it off. Physically I am much better, I walk 15 to 20 miles a week and exercise besides. I cut back on my alcohol to three or four a week and aside from “Normal” aches and pains am doing well. She urged me to renew things I enjoyed in the past. I am somewhat of a musician and joined a bunch of folks for a weekly jam. I find that keeping busy and feeling useful is the most important. I have had my bouts of anger and fear as mentioned above and have been difficult to be around on occasions as my girlfriend will attest to. I am trying more to be cognizant and to keep the Triggers in perspective. I am trying to turn my thinking from worrying about surviving a near death experience to enjoying the things I did before. More good days than bad days now. Staying active, useful and exercising your mind as well as your body are imperative. At 70 I’m going back to work as a field Engineer (lots of walking) and doing the things that I thought made me whole. I think I’ve found that no one thing is the answer, living life positively is. Ain’t always easy but I’m going for it.

  17. Ruth,
    I agree with you. When my husband has temper outbursts, his eyes are filled with a look of hatred. I wondered, as he was physicaly out of life under operation, it was the ideal time for a spirit to enter his body. He is a saved person and mostly loving. After the operation he gets very angry at stupid things and are very insulting. This is killing my love.

    1. My ex husband went through the same thing. Now don’t get me wrong he wasn’t the nicest guy to begin with after all he is my ex , but, after the surgery there was no more nice guy anywhere to be found in him . He wanted me there because I’m a nurse and he knew that I would understand everything and he needed me there for support and believe me that’s the only reason why I showed up . When he woke up in the ICU he looked at me with such evil and hate it was like being stared at by Satan himself . The verbal abuse was so vile that the nurses told me if I didn’t leave they were going to have me removed . They felt so horrible for me they couldn’t stand the way he was talking to me it really was that vile . And although he was never exactly a saint he was never like this . Since then he has now been incarcerated for domestic violence with the person he lives with now . He has escalated from verbal abuse to physical something no matter how angry he would never lay a finger on a woman but now he does and I believe this escalation have to do with his quadruple bypass . He had a sweet side and a loving side but now he’s just a monster . I was told by some ICU nurses that this does happen when the heart needs to get zapped more than twice to get going after the surgery and he got zapped three times . I don’t know if that happened to the other gentleman in these other comments but it happened to my ex.

    2. i could have written this comment. so in a small way i feel vindicated but i still don’t know what to do….. when we married, i never foresaw what “in sickness and in health” was truly going to demand of me. in my youth, i never could understand how a couple could fall out of love after 30+ years…. now i have empathy, now i understand at least one scenario… but still i don’t know what to do; i can’t seem to “fix” this situation and i don’t like who i am becoming as i try to cope with my new realities.

  18. My husband, now 55, had a triple bypass three and a half years ago. I am grateful he got to the hospital in time or he would have died but truthfully, a part of him died anyway. While he’s able to work FT, his personality has changed drastically and it’s been very sad for me to watch and sometimes endure. He gets angry very quickly, is extraordinarily unreasonable at times, has no desire to do anything, has become entirely self-centered, and is very forgetful. When he’s not working he’s sleeping. Despite my pleas for him to see a different cardiologist or consider seeking help for depression, which I believe is a permanent side effect of the CABG and meds, he won’t budge. I do the best I can and have learned to let his “fits” and sometimes nasty comments go, but I’m crying on the inside, I recently went on an antidepressant because of this and the fact that when I’m not working I’m doing everything for both of us. Everyday is a gift. I try to create as many good memories as I can.

    1. Christie, it sounds like I could have written your post. Life is just not the same since my husbands CABG, nor do I see it changing, He’s literally like the proverbial Jekyll & Hyde, i have had to go on Antidepressants as well. The past 3 yrs have been so hard, but where there’s a will there’s a way, or so they say!!

    2. Thank you Christie.
      Reading your comments was like a mirror reflection of my exact feelings and experience since my husband had 3 sequential heart attacks in December. Yes it is very difficult to watch and experience the changes after 30 years of marriage to a man who was always very patient and loving;and now has become very critical, harsh, negative and complaining. Patience IS a virtue and something I am struggling to maintain. One day at a time is good advice. Hoping for all wives in this situation that we can each endure with grace, while maintaining our own sanity and self worth. Communicating with others who are going through similar circumstances is so very encouraging and helpful!

    3. My husband at 44years old just had quadruple bypass on May 7th. He was everything I was looking for in a husband. You couldn’t find a better man. He was sweet , patient , loving, some times overly touchy ( I loved it on the inside ) even though I used to tell him quit. I know people were jealous of our love, but now we are 10weeks out of surgery and his mood is changing. I am so broke up on the inside. I wonder if this will pass or not? He has had 3 explosive outbursts and they are not scary just sad. I am dying for his love and apology? I mean does he even understand what he is doing? I am not the only one that he had an out burst on. I just pray this will pass. Please I beg in Jesus name bring my husband back to me.

  19. I really appreciate reading these comments. My husband at 67 went through an emergency triple by pass during the testing he coded. They sent him home after only 5 days. Though, I was telling the medical staff that he wasn’t ready. He came home one angry person! He winded up cracking his rib cage that lead to surgery number 2. It has been over two years still don’t have my husband back. He is withdrawn physically and emotionally. He has become either weepy, angry, judgmental and verbally mean. He says, he loves me treats me with utter resentments. He is drinking excessively acts like he wishes he was no longer here. I recently moved to my own apartment because the behavior was effecting my own self worth. I spend everyday walking on egg shells, guilt and worry . I had read that it could take up to a year for full recovery. I am still waiting for my best friends to be as happy as I am that he is still here. I don’t think its going to happen. I set up counseling which didn’t work. I feel like “no one ” is listening.

    1. Hi Kathleen,
      The reason I reply to your post is because I feel that my husband 61 who had surgery (4 artery bypass )a few monts back reacts the same
      I am not allowed to defend myself in any way when he gets childish and angry outbursts over minor issues. Mostly these outbursts are over stupid stuff and totaly unexpected. I feel so down and do not know how to handle the situation.

    2. You are not going crazy. This just happened to my fiance………3 weeks ago……he is home now and I feel like I am caring for a very angry stranger. He is not the same man. Very angry and yells often. This is not the man I have known for 10 years. This is HORRIBLE. doing my best to be loving and care for him but at the same time I am like ( Who is this man! ) BTW my mother went through this 6 months ago……….I need to say sorry to my Father..he was saying the same thing about my mom and I thought he was being a baby. She is still not the same:(

  20. Hi..I had a small heart attack then triple bypass 2 days later. Im a 54 female..this was on september 2018..then nov 8 2018 i had 2 stents put in my heart. Well needless to say my recovery was set back to zero and i had to start recovery all over..2nd time around is totally worse than the first time. Had i known the recovery was so bad i probably would not have had the surgery or / and definitely not had the stents. My life is a living hell…seriously..a nightmare i cant wake up from. I am thankful for my life being saved and having a second chance..( doctors said i was extremely lucky with the first heart attack..having survived)..But….im not yhe same person and never will be ..so my psychologist tells me. Oh yes.. i now have full blown depression..one of many new things i must deal with. The persin i was and the life i had is gone..dead…never to be any more. They say i must mourn and accept the new me…my new life. Well naturally this is not going well. I used to be quiet..kind..considerate..a nice lady. Very well liked…i was helpdul..empathetic..caring..and funny as hell…seriously..so funny. Hard working and a fighter with compassion for others and tolerant. Thats all gone. Honestly im a bitch..cant stand people ..i dont want to hear about other people troubles.. I dont want to help any one..cant stand most people most of the time. Im angry..mad as hell..cry like a baby with no warning and cant control my emotions. I cuss like a sailor and cant be still. Before i was so relaxed…now my body and mind have to make every minute count. No time to waste. And no. I did not have a stroke..i have just changed. You see open heart surgery can and does change people…every day is a struggle …body muscles dont want to work..drs dont want to listen….they say it will pass..it happens…ya it happened to me…my life sucks…and again i must say im thankful im alive but drs never mention how recovery can be f..ing hell. Its now dec 16 2018…so i fight each day to survive ..to beat the recovery in hell..to try to get a small piece of normalcy back..i fight ti get my body to work.. I even fight to take a poop without medication..lol. Seriously…i fight to keep my mind sane. Is the recovery woryh..honestly i cannot answer that queation yet. I hope it will be..i contunue to have hope that it will be worth it and life will be worth living again. Quality of life is so important. So in short heart surgery and heart attacks and stents do and can change a person. Have patience and empathy for us…if you nevere walked in someones shoes you have no idea. Basically…have a ❤

  21. My husband suffered a heart attack on Valentine’s Day a few years back when he was 58 and subsequent triple bypass with no complications and a quick recovery. He doesn’t talk much or laugh anymore. When I talk to him or ask him a question, he just ignores me like I am not even there. He loved me and we used to have fun. Now he has angry outbursts and is insulting. I am guessing that the medication is to blame but not sure if maybe he has depression, either way, he won’t talk to anyone about it. The Bible says the heart is the seat of emotion-love, anger, etc. not the brain. I really believe that.

    1. I whole “heartedly” agree! My husband is the same following his 3 heart attacks and stent, he ignores and insults me. Usually it’s difficult even to get his attention unless I repeat his name a few times first, then he may acknowledge me. This is sad, discouraging and very very frustrating for me as his wife of 30 years. Gone are the fun and happy times we once shared together which now have been replaced in the last 6 months since his MI’s by complaining and negative comments. The tough thing is he does not recognize HE has changed. Mostly he blames me for his troubles, even though I am valiantly trying to be helpful to him he just doesn’t recognize this or care about me anymore. It’s as if I am invisible and alone which is horrible in a marriage. If anyone knows of a good support group in central /Florida East Coast I can join for this issue, please email me! I really could use the support.

      1. Hi Sharon,

        I am in the same situation as everyone has discussed. I am located on the East coast of Florida and am desperate to talk to someone about this regarding my husband. He is unaware of these personality changes and I am broken on the inside. I don’t have your email but would love to talk…

        Hope

    2. Hi Alicia~
      I feel for you!
      I have been reading up on “pump head” cuz I’m sure that’s what happened to my husband. He was a wonderful guy, had quad bypass in 2006, was good for a few years, then his personality totally changed. He was mean, verbally abusive, and couldn’t get along with anyone. It just got worse and worse. His friend began to ignore him, and he all but became a hermit. He shaved his hair off, and didn’t change his clothes unless I got after him. It was a horrible situation. He had a couple minor heart attacks thro’ the years, and finally in 2017, his heart gave out. It was only working at 15% when he passed away in the hospital at 69, 2 days before his 70th birthday, and 1 day after our 23rd anniversary.
      I only learned about pump head a few months after his death.
      Doctors (cardiologists) don’t tell you about it. My son-in-law just happened to hear of it when he was with his Mom when she went for a stress test. The nurse mentioned something about it during a conversation. He didn’t mention my husband’s problem, just listened to what she was saying. So we know it does happen, but no one wants to talk about it, explain it, or help in any way! It doesn’t make sense to me!! I’ve often wondered if we had known, if counseling, etc. could have helped us. The last 7 years or so were absolutely awful to live with. I threatened to leave a few times, but never did. He was NOT the man I married. I wish I could help you, but maybe talking to a counselor or Dr. who knows about this would help you. Prayers for you!!

  22. I had my Mitral valve repaired 6 months ago at age 46. I had that pump head for 3 months after and walked around with no emotions what so ever. I felt like a shell nothing inside me. I now find myself angry and easily agitated . I snap at people and have no tolerance for lack of respect . I find the empathy I once had is gone and that shell of a person from time to time still exist emotionless .

    1. Omg..my husband was the nicest person on the face of the earth with an abundance of friends who wanted to be around him..he had emergency mitral valve repair surgery almost three years ago..since, he angers easily, is always snapping or yelling at friends, I can’t begin to say how he verbally treats me…I’m ready to leave..and, just found out the stitch slipped so he will need the same surgery again

  23. I am so glad I found this thread… I was starting to question myself! clearly the medical profession is not listening to what is really happening post operation… my husband has really changed since his valve replacement/stent/bypass
    Massive angry outbursts, irrational behaviour, erratic mood swings etc etc – just as others have posted…this can’t just be all a coincidence?

    1. My husband’s personality also changed after heart by-pass. From the early days in the hospital to now (3 years later) he is short tempered and intolerant to any minor inconveniences. His easy going temperament is gone. Nothing else beside the surgery happened, and there were no complications during surgery or recovery. I looked this up, hoping there was some science behind it. There needs to be research done on this, because while the surgery saves lives, the subsequent personality changes, ruin the quality of living for all involved.

      1. Hi me and my mom r going thru a very similar situation, and it’s getting worse. Have you talked to the doctor about a antidepressant? I hear they need on meds. But getting my dad to agree is very unlikely ,how long does this continue or is this never ending? I am very stressed , our home which was once a safe and peaceful place has become a place of uneasiness. Reply if you can in messanger, my email may not work.

  24. My ex-husband Had Quad by pass surgery in 2014 we were married 18 years. He became abusive. Very angry, one year later he left me. My heart was broken. He remarried with in the year we divorced. He started drinking, still smokes 3 to four packs of cigarettes a day. He never drank the whole 18 years of our marriage. I would not let him have cigarettes during his recovery but as soon as he could drive he stared smoking again. I do not understand what happened but I will always love him and pray that he will wake up before it is to late. The doctor told him 10 years if he took care of his health. But he is not.

    1. My husband had 4 by passes 7 years ago. He was my knoght in shining armor. After surgery he is bossy, always angry, verbally abusive. He says ignore him when he has outburst he can’t help it but i have had it. We just live together. I am sad i have to live my life with no love in anyway. Good luck to you, hang in there someone loves you.

  25. I have read scientific articles, spoken to doctors, and regardless of the cause, the reality for family members is that following heart surgery, the patient is different. My husband had a heart valve replacement and double bypass and suffered from the short term “pump head” problems. But 7 years later he/we still deal with memory problems, violent mood swings, over reactions, and general personality shift. Patients should know this going into the surgery. It wouldn’t have changed our decision to have the surgery, but at least I would have been better prepared to handle the changes that are now my reality.

  26. My husband had quadruple bypass surgery about eight years ago. I clearly remember him telling me as we left the hospital that he felt very different than the person who walked into the hospital only five days previous. He was confused often and hsd lost his common sense. Over the years he has become worse. I am glad that I read this article and comments. I feel validated.

  27. I had an aortic valve replacement.TAVR. i noticed about 3 months later that my jovial happy go lucky self became a critical n judgemental person. I prefer to be alone and have no tolerance for fake people and idiots. I dont know if its because i realized how short life can be…and i didnt want to waste it on foolishness, or im basically not the loving compassionate person i used to be. Either way…ive changed.

  28. Hi Tammi,
    My dad just had heart surgery and now after 40 plus years of marriage to my mom, he is convinced my mom has been cheating on him throughout their entire marriage. He’s been telling stories that just don’t make any sense. Sometimes I think it’s Alzheimer’s but he’s fine in every other way. They are separated now and he is fine as long as she is not brought up.

  29. My husband soon to be ex-husband has become a totally different person after 3 heart attacks and having 5 stints placed. He threatens anyone who he may disagree with. He asked for a divorce. He does not sleep well and is never happy. Is this behavior a result of the medication or the surgery he endured?

  30. My husband has suffered 3 heart attacks and had 5 stunts implanted. He is also a prostate cancer survivor. His personality has changed for the worst. He asked for a divorce after 10 years of marriage and we are in the legal process at the current time. He has no patience and is irritable with everyone.

  31. My husband had a quadruple bypass a week ago and was discharged today.It was very sudden and not expected so came as a shock to us all. He has gone from a very calm easy going person to a nasty mean man. Every time i try to help him by reminding him to do his exercise or take his meds he shouts at me and has a wild angry look in his eyes actually very scary. Physically he is recovering well just these angry outbursts. I am so hoping he is not going to stay like this and that it is just a temporary side affect from surgery.

    1. My husband has just recently undergone 4 by passes. He started changing about 6 days post surgery. He has gone from a loving sweet man to an angry ill tempered man I don’t know. Yes this is real. I’m willing to fight to get my soul mate back. It’s hard. Nothing I do is right. God help the spouses going through this!

  32. My fiance just suffered a heart attack and had heart surgery three and a half weeks ago and he too is a not the same person that’s very sad I’m doing everything in my power to keep us together but he left me a couple days ago I just don’t understand

    1. Consider yourself lucky that you didn’t get married. A family member just went through the same thing, her husband had a massive MI last year, and immediately had personality changes. The wife that he loved so dearly before now irritates him, and he finds fault with everything she does. He was a wonderful step-dad to her kids, but not any longer. He told her recently that he’s leaving and getting his own place. After what she’s been through with him the last six months, she’s ready for him to just go. So very sad.

  33. I noticed changes in my father after heart surgery. He recovered some of his memory but I attributed it to anesthesia. I heard anesthesia in senior citizens can cause temporary fuzzy memories.

  34. Hi Ginny
    I came across this post while doing some research. I am a spiritual healer – but before you pass any judgment you may want to listen to what I have to say. I deal with the human energy field and it has a lot to do with when it is weakened or damaged it can change our mood our personality the way we think and the way we feel. In your husband’s case after the heart attack his human energy field became compromised and basically and to put it bluntly a spirit has entered his energy field influencing the person he is today. My technique works and I am successful at helping others with similar issues. I am reputable and you can see this by going to my website whitelightandwishes.com if you have any questions please ask. Warmest regards Ruth 🙂

    1. Post
      Author

      Personality changes after heart surgery are most likely caused by (mini) strokes and treatment should be focused on diagnosis, initial treatment and the prevention of recurrences. Treatment such as what you suggest may play an important adjunctive role and is unfortunately frequently neglected.
      Dr T

    2. I am writing a book about this very subject; I , too, have lived through the devastation of my now -ex-husband (he divorced me) who underwent open heart surgery and became a completely different person.

      I have interviewed a number of couples regarding this phenomenon of personality change post bypass surgery. I am also interviewing cardiologists and cardio nurses for their stories and perspective.

      The second half of the book delves into the possible causes (including the metaphysical/spiritual).

      I would like to include as many personal stories as possible. Please let me know if you are interested. Thank you.

        1. Hi again – sorry, I’ve been swamped with professional obligations and am just now getting back to this site.

          My contact information is below:

      1. For fourteen years I have gone thru the terrible negative change in my husbands personality following my husband’s triple bypass in April 2006. I would be very interested in including my story with you.

      2. Blanche
        For fourteen years I have gone thru the terrible negative change in my husbands personality following my husband’s triple bypass in 2006. I would be very interested in including my story with you.

      3. For fourteen years I have gone thru the terrible negative change in my husbands personality following my husband’s triple bypass in 2006. I would be very interested in including my story with you.

      4. My husband died in March 2020. His personality had changed, and I have questioned myself on the why’s and what if’s. After reading these posts, I wonder if all this was a reason for his changes toward me in the few past years. Maybe it was because of his past surgeries. I have been so hard on myself since he died. I have so wondered why he treated me so differently since his heart surgeries. Please help me; I feel it may have been something I had done.

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