Coughing after Bypass Surgery

Hello, everyone. I joined this forum because my father, who is 64, just had 4 bypasses on December 23rd. He came home on the 3rd day after surgery because he was doing so well. He didn't have a heart attack, but he had 4 blockages. Anyway, since coming home he has had a dry cough. He doesnt nor has he ever smoked. When he is up doing his walking or sitting up, he doesn't have it, but when he lies down at night or if he starts talking for a long period of time he has a slight cough to having coughing fits. I called his cardiologist and they told me it was normal, and they knew it was painful, but it was normal. He went to see his primary care physician and she checked him over and said he was doing great. His cough has gotten better, but he is still worried about it, especially since everyone he knows who has had bypass surgery (they had theirs 8 to over 10 years ago) is telling him it isn't normal and he should be worried. I've rsearched on here and other medical sites as well as talking to the doctors myself, and everything I can find says that the coughing is part of it. He is not taking one of the ACE inhibitors that causes a cough, at least that I know of, but still everything I find dealing with recent bypass surgeries says the cough is normal. Can anyone here confirm that they have experienced this and at everything I'm saying is correct? Thanks so much!

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My 65 year old dad had triple bypass surgery on Dec 15th. He was released after one week. He already had this irritating cough prior to surgery but was controlled with hydromet (prescription cough syrup). Since surgery his coughing has been getting worse especially when he eats, puts his feet up or lies down. His incision started showing signs of infection and at his two week follow up visit with his local cardiologist they suggested we see the surgeon who did the operation. Thankfully they were able to squeeze us in that same day because the CT scan showed that his cough had caused the wires, that were holding his sternum closed, to break open. The surgeon ending filling in the gaps of the sternum with a procedure using his omentum flap. After the second surgery he was bleeding more than normal so they monitured this bleeding for two days. Bloodwork showed low hemoglobins so they decided to go back in there to take to look to find out what was causing the bleeding. They discovered that he had torn some of the sutures on his right ventricle causing the bleeding. They repaired it but now he is in a medically induced coma for two days to give the heart a chance to heal. I am soooo worried that this stupid cough has caused all these complication and will do anything to find out how to stop the cough so that he can heal. I don't think that he'll be able to handle another surgery. He's already had 3 in the last 3 1/2 weeks. If anyone knows anything about this or has any suggestions PLEASE let me know. He is not on any of those ACH inhibitors or any of those medications that end in "pril" like I read about. He does have acid reflux and they only have prilosac at the hospital so we are going to bring my dad's nexium. He met with a pulmonary specialist who thinks he might be having aspirations which can cause this cough. They will do a swallow test once they take him out of the coma. I just really need to figure this out so he can get better- PLEASE HELP ME!!!!!!

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Yes, I had the cough, maybe not as much as your dad's. I never smoked either.

I tried to use that breathing exercise machine, where you suck in, to strengthen your lungs -- it seems designed to MAKE you cough! And it is painful, so you don't over do it. But there is a gauge on it, and you can see yourself getting better. Is your dad using that?

I believe it's called an "incentive spirometer," the incentive part is the the gauge you can see, I guess.

I was supposed to do it like every hour. In fact, they had me do it before the surgery as a test, so you have an idea what degree of compromise was caused by the surgery.

I guess it's normal for your lungs to be compromised during the operation, and you have to "re-inflate" the little sacs, or whatever. They explained to me your lungs are like sponges, that get deflated or collapse during surgery. It takes a while ti re-inflate them. Maybe your dad is going through that?

The doctors and nurses will be very concerned about any pneumonia that may set in -- that is why you do the walking, the exercises, the spirometer. And they want you on that asap and consistently.

Good luck to your dad, sounds like he has a very good advocate in you!

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I just had bypass on Dec 6th and I had a cough but I was a smoker. From everything I was told the cough is normal. My cough was dry also but I did have sinus drainage that made me gag and have poor appetite. Your dad doesn't need to be to concerned. I used hard candies to keep my throat moist so I was less likely to cough. I was more apt to cough when I laid back. Just hug that pillow and let rip. It is just part of the healing process from my experiance. It will get better and he will cough less.

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Thank you for your replies. He has been using the spirometer. His doc told him he could cut it back to every 3-4 hours. I'll keep making sure he does what he is supposed to be doing.

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Hello: kds786

I had a quad 4 bypass also ,has your dad taken xray to check for fluid build up around lungs ? and certain pain meds will cause dry mouth that it's hard to swallow , found out that a glass of soda(coke a cola)clear and clean throat area, then have a glass of water,

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mydadalbert ,

Your dads operation sounds a lot like what I went through, I pray that he doesn't have staph infection , I cut through my sternum with all the coughing I was doing had four operations in a month to repair all the damage that was done, after going home the fourth day I couldn't breath rushed back to the hospital where my doctor was very stern with me not using the coughing pillow correctly , in front of him and nurse the fluids were backing up out of my top incision while using my coughing pillow , I had staph and with the wires went right through my bones, they couldn't close me up after sitting there with my chest open for two weeks while I healed, stayed on Vancomycin for 28 days, plastic surgeon was called in to use talons instead of wires I have 5 plates in my chest,, I praying for a strong and fast recovery for your Dad

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i had a cough and changed the medicine. it improved i think someone above mentioned that also. i have found things are very different. i have muscle aches i never had. i go a long time breathing great. suddenly for a couple of days of more i struggle. we are vastly changed after this procedure. i think a lot of it is just pressing forward. be sure you support your cough with the pillow. we all know what the cough is like. pain doesn't adequately describe the feeling. hang in there. marvin

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Does anyone have any suggestions on a way to make it "easier" to cough? My husband has tried holding his "heart pillow", but his cough is non-productive. He says it feels like there's something there that isn't coming up. He says it's very painful too. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Thank You!

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Hi Kd,
Like your husband I found the "heart pillow" didn't really cut it. I have found that hugging myself real tight (crossing arms across chest) and holding tight to upper arm area alleviates the pain better than heart pillow. I take the heart pillow when we go out in car though as it is difficult to hug yourself in bucket
Hope this helps!

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Hi Pam,
Thank you for the suggestion. He said that helped! We are going to venture out for the first time later today. He is going a little "stir-crazy". I will pray for your continued recovery. Thank you again.

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