Heart Valve Replacement
Heart valve replacement removes damaged valves and replaces them with either man-made or biological valves. Man-made valves are made of synthetic materials and usually last for a patient's lifetime without needing to be replaced. Patients who have man-made valves will need to use anticoagulants for life to prevent blood clots from forming on the new valve. Biological valves typically last ten to fifteen years and are often made of heart tissue from pigs or cows. Human heart tissue may also be used. Women who are athletes may wish to have biological valves to avoid the need for anticoagulants, and elderly patients may also want to use biological valves.
Heart valve replacement operations can be done using both traditional and newer surgical methods. If performed traditionally, a stay of five days in the hospital is usually needed, and recovery takes between six to eight weeks. Newer surgical methods use smaller incisions, which allow patients to spend between three and five days in the hospital, and recovery generally takes between two to four weeks. Newer methods are not suitable for all types of heart valve disease, and doctors will talk with patients about the most effective, safest procedure for their overall health and particular disease.
Keep reading for more on managing heart valve disease now.