Ask a cardiologist: Brain fog after surgery

November 13, 2023


Following surgery to replace my aortic valve, I often experienced what I can best describe as brain fog and reduced mental sharpness during my recovery. Is this common?


Postperfusion syndrome, often called "pumphead," is a set of brain problems that can happen after heart surgery when a machine, called a heart-lung bypass machine, is used to help pump blood through the body. The issues include problems with paying attention, focusing, remembering things for a short time, and making small movements with your hands. It might also take longer to think and move. These problems are usually temporary, with no lasting damage to the brain. If you have concerns, speak to your healthcare provider.

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