burp

No, not the burping you might do immediately after coronary bypass surgery, but in the days or weeks after the operation?

A little belch here and there, very soon after coronary bypass surgery, isn’t too concerning, since the general anesthesia could cause this.

It may even be related to the hospital food, or the way the patient is gulping water through a straw, gulping in air as well, which can lead to burping.

But what if burping persists even after you return home after the surgery?

What if it doesn’t seem to be related to food or beverage intake?

“Frequent belching after coronary artery bypass is not normal,” says Michael Fiocco, Chief of Open Heart Surgery at Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, one of the nation’s top 50 heart hospitals.

“It may be related to the patient subconsciously swallowing a lot of air due to the trauma to the chest and upper abdomen, leading to more frequent belching,” continues Dr. Fiocco.

Worrisome Cause of Burping Related to a Heart Problem

“Less likely, but not unheard of, is belching can be a response to poor blood flow to the heart, what is referred to as angina equivalent,” says Dr. Fiocco.

This is in reference to coronary artery disease – prior to any bypass operation.

Usually the symptoms are chest pain or tightness (typically upon physical exertion), getting out of breath from light activities that previously did not cause this symptom, and less commonly, nausea, back pain and arm pain.

As far as the burping without any other worrisome symptoms such as shortness of breath, “These patients don’t feel the typical chest pain, but again, are swallowing air — trying to respond to some odd feeling in their chest or upper abdomen,” explains Dr. Fiocco.

“I had a patient last year [2018] who would begin belching whenever he rode his stationary bike. Once he was diagnosed [with vessel blockages] and treated with coronary artery bypass, it all went away.

“This is rare, but worth considering in these cases.”

Certainly, if you’ve been burping lately, there’s no reason to lose sleep over the fear that your arteries are clogged.

But if this continues without any explanation, you’d be wise to see your doctor.

Burping as an isolated symptom of untreated heart troubles is very rare. Nevertheless, the cause should be pursued, especially if you have multiple risk factors for coronary artery disease. Read more about how a heart problem can cause belching in this article.

dr. fiocco

Dr. Fiocco specializes in treating artery disease, valvular disease and aortic aneurysm. His heart care expertise has earned him recognition by Baltimore Magazine as a Top Doctor in 2010, 2011, 2013, 2016 and 2017.