Aortic dissection & aortic aneurysm information support group

Aortic dissection, aortic aneurysm - The aorta - Life after an aortic dissection


My first post.  Glad I found you all.

I had an AVR in 1996.  The St Jude mechanical that Dr. Fred Grover (blessings upon him) put in is working just fine.  I am still experiencing the same post brain fog, all these years later.

My wife tells me I am not experiencing this, she does not believe that there could be a relationship between bypass for extended periods of time and memory and cognition issues.  I am certain of the change in my life, there are large blocks of my memory that are gone - long term memory; and there are significant issues with my short term memory.


I was an extremely healthy 34 year old soldier when I got a bad case of strep that turned into endocarditis.  I wonder if the group can help me with this - where can I find scientific literature on the long term impact(s) of:  1.  AVR or any surgery where the aorta is clamped closed (there is discussion of plaque being released when the aorta is clamped); and 2.  bypass use esp long use of bypass causing permanent memory and cognition issues.


Why do I ask?  My interest was piqued when the results from a brain MRI came back showing numerous white spots on my frontal cortex.  This is a sign of a history of mini strokes in my brain.  I can't help but assume that these were caused during my surgery, anyone have any ideas?


Be well everyone!


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Comment by Harry on February 22, 2012 at 23:38

Hello Brian,

I tend to agree with you & my learned friends in this blog that there is a correlation between surgery & memory loss. I don’t have historical memory loss but rather short term absent mindedness & being forgetful. In addition I had 2020 vision which I lost after surgery; eyes have never been the same.

Pretty sure being under for 10+hours, then having your brain temp lowered & pumped full of chemicals can only have a negative effect on some of our organs.

Still better to have short memory loss then the alternative. I use this as an excuse with the wife when I  forget things, but she won’t have any of it…….



Comment by Kimberlee Jones on February 22, 2012 at 13:16

Any of us here can attest to the the brain clouding.  My cardiologist told me it was perfectly normal and for most people their normal memory function returns, with me 6yr later, it has not.  Is mine the only cardiologist admitting this!! I'm so surprised to read from other, that it was not confirmed.  My cardio, said it is very normal!!!  You're not alone Brain, there are many many of us with as I call it brain clouding issues.



Comment by brian morrissey on February 21, 2012 at 0:45

Thank you Cheryl,

Thank you so much.  I sometimes feel marginalized in my reports of cognitive issues.  No one 1.  believes that there is a relationship, 2.  believes me when I explain my experiences.  The experience is real, has been since 1996 for me.  (BTW God bless for all the surgeries you have been through, hope it's OK if I add you to my prayer list).  Funny enough is the looks I get from medical professionals when I mention that there may be a relationship if not a cause and effect between these cognitive issues and the bypass machine (or another aspect of the surgery e.g., the manual manipulation of the aorta).  Sad is how I feel when even loved ones do not affirm what I am experiencing.  Be well, stay in the game.


Comment by Cheryl Kerber on February 20, 2012 at 21:33

I do believe there is a correlation with major surgeries like ours and brain for/cognitive issues.  But of course when I ask any physician I've seen over the last 8 years - they all say no -- it's just age.  I beg to differ.

I was 38 when I had my first dissection, 39 when I had my first emergency surgery to replace a portion of my aorta(over 10 hours), and then 45(this past July) when I had to replace the original dissected aneurysm as it had grown --- another lenghty surgery.

I can only equate it to how my friends who have dealt with cancer and have gone through chemo - as they call it chemo brain.

It is hard to explain to those who haven't had the experience as maybe to them, we seem "normal", but we, since we are the ones directly involved, know that something is different.  It's not that we lose our "intelligence" - but things just kind of take longer to register, it's harder to maintain the info, and it feels like what we used to know/and how quickly we knew it has "lessened".

Of course after surgery, alot has to do with just healing from the shock of surgery.  And then of course the myriad drugs etc., we receive during and after (which I'm not complaining about as there would have been no way for me to survive mentally/physically without them).  And of course, we aren't the same anymore.  They can replace and fix issues, but the damage to our entire bodies/psyche already exists and there isn't any way possible to "fix" it all.

Some parts of my memory I think are gone so I don't remember --- otherwise I wouldn't have been able to move forward.  Bits and pieces slip through now and again and it can be overwhelming and you can wonder whether it was real or not - but I know it did - and reliving it, isn't always a happy event though I'm very thankful to have survived and had phenomenal surgeons that helped piece me back together so I could function, albeit, not where I was before.

Most of us, if not all of us on this site agree that the psychological struggle is worse than the physical struggle to get "back".

As for scientific literature --- well, not sure if there is much along those lines especially for the non-medical community ---- you are the scientific literature.  You survived what you did, and are a walking testament to the experience.

The hardest part is knowing that for the most part you have to accept that you aren't who you were prior to the surgery (whether that's a good thing or not - who knows).  But maybe without having had this experience, you wouldn't be looking at life now the way you do.  I know I appreciate life more - I notice the little things - I try to be present (not always easy as at times since the surgery, I can feel over loaded and I have to ask for the person to repeat what they said).  This is something very difficult for my kids to understand as they think I'm ignoring them, but I'm not -- I'm physically looking at them, but it doesn't always register.  Don't know if that makes sense to you.

You are not alone even though you might feel like you are.

All I can suggest to you from my own experience is to keep challenging your brain (they say that anyway for anyone as they age) to keep your mind young --- I think we just have to work at it a little harder and a little longer.

I used to be great with math --- with my 2 boys when they were in geometry and algebra - I could help them out (that was presurgeries) but with my 2 girls (who are younger of course) and were in those subjects post surgery - it just isn't there anymore.

This probably didn't help you answer your question.  Just know, you aren't alone.  I still off and on try to find out the "why" all this happened as I don't fit any - and I mean any - of the criteria for having this condition.  Sometimes (and it's hard to accept) - life just happens - and we have to battle through it and hopefully at least come out of it holding our heads up high and taki


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