Heart Valve Surgery

1 What is a Heart Valve Surgery?

A procedure that is used to treat heart valve diseases is called heart valve surgery. You have a heart valve disease if one of the four heart valves that keep blood flowing in the correct directions through your heart does not function properly. Your doctor or surgeon will then replace or repair the affected heart valves.

The heart valve diseases that may be treated by heart valve surgery include:

Heart valve surgery can result in:

  • Prolonged life
  • Improved quality of life
  • Preservation of the function of your heart muscle
  • Reduced symptoms

Major complications of this surgery are rare because of the surgical techniques and improved technology while open heart surgeries involve some risk.

Some of the possible complications include:

  • Heart attack
  • Bleeding
  • Irregular heart rhythm or arrhythmia
  • Infection
  • Surgery needed for a new valve
  • Stroke

2 Reasons for Procedure

The main reason for a heart valve surgery is to correct the problems caused by one or more diseased heart valves.

If you have a damaged heart valve you might have the following symptoms such as:

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3 Potential Risks

Some of the possible risks that are associated with heart valve surgery include:

  • Blood clots which can cause heart attack
  • Lung problems or stroke
  • Bleeding during or after the surgery
  • Pneumonia
  • Infection
  • Arrhythmias or Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Breathing problems

4 Preparing for your Procedure

In preparing for your heart valve surgery, you must follow your doctor’s orders. 

Your treatment will depend on several factors such as:

  • Your overall health
  • Age
  • And the condition of your heart

A team of doctors will work with you in determining the right surgery to treat your condition. Your surgeon may perform procedures using minimally invasive heart surgery.

5 What to Expect

Here you can find out what to expect from your heart valve surgery.

Heart valve repair can be used if you have a problem with your mitral valve not closing properly or regurgitation. This means that you may not need to take lifelong blood-thinning medications.

The possible procedures include:

  • Repair of structural support by shortening or replacing the cords that support the valves.
  • Annuloplasty by implanting an artificial ring to tighten the tissue around the valve which can allow the leaflets to come together and close the abnormal opening through the valve.
  • Valve leaflet repair by separating, pleating or cutting a leaflet.

Your surgeon will recommend heart valve replacement if your heart valve cannot be repaired by replacing it with a prosthetic valve.

You may need this if you have stenosis or calcification. Transcatheter aortic valve replacement is a minimally invasive procedure to replace a narrowed aortic valve that fails to open properly.

The types of heart valve replacement include mechanical valves which are designed to last for many years and are made of synthetic materials; biological valves or tissue valves which are made from animal tissue or human tissue.

6 Procedure Results

Understanding the results of your heart valve surgery will be made possible by your doctor. You will be in a recovery room after the surgery. You will be closely monitored.

You will be connected to machines that will constantly display your electrocardiogram (ECG) tracing, blood pressure, other pressure readings, breathing rate, and your oxygen level. You will get pain medication.

You will most likely have a tube in your throat so that breathing can be assisted with a ventilator (breathing machine) until you are stable enough to breathe on your own. 

Consult your doctor if you are experiencing these:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fever or Chills
  • Increase in pain around the incision site
  • Swelling
  • Redness, Bleeding or Drainage from the incision site
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