“Pumphead,” also called postperfusion syndrome, is the name given to a constellation of neurological symptoms that can result from complications of open-heart surgery.
During this type of surgery, the heart is stopped and the patient placed on the heart bypass machine, which takes over blood pumping functions.
Traditionally, this syndrome has been attributed to tiny debris and air bubbles (microemboli) that enter the brain via cardiopulmonary bypass. Fortunately, these effects are usually temporary, although it can persist in a small percentage of patients.
Historically, after heart bypass surgery patients also are depressed and anxiety-ridden.
This depression was traditionally attributed to the trauma of surgery. But having observed this phenomenon for more than 30 years, I think there may be something more occurring.
During open-heart surgery, the heart is deflated and stopped. I believe the heart is reacting to severe physical trauma, sending signals to the brain, which reacts with emotions common in times of deep sorrow and loss.
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