Valve Replacement

Heart has four valves which are: – Two atrioventricular valves (Mitral Valve & Tricuspid Valve) between the atria & ventricles; Two semilunar valves (Aortic Valve & Pulmonary Valve) which is in arteries leaving the heart.  These valves open to let blood flow through or out of the heart & then shut to keep it from flowing backwards. Valve problems can be present at birth or  can be caused by infections, heart attacks, heart disease or damages like regurgitation (Blood flow back through the valve in wrong direction); Stenosis (Valve doesn’t open enough, which blocks blood flow); Prolapse (Valve doesn’t close tightly). Heart valve surgery is done to repair or replace diseased/damaged heart valves. This surgery is done when changes in heart valve are causing major heart symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath, fainting spells, heart failure; tests showing change in heart valves are affecting heart functions; heart valve has been damaged due to infection of heart valves (endocarditis). There are different type of heart valve replacement & which one to be chosen depends upon age, gender of patient, valve condition & desire to become pregnant.

1.  Artificial /Mechanical Prosthetic Heart Valve Replacement: – Man made valve composed of plastic, metal, polycarbon & other material. This valve is very strong & does not wear off; hardly require additional surgery to be replaced in future but at the same time has increased risk of endocarditis, require lifelong use of blood thinners after surgery, increased risk during pregnancy & may have audible click with each heartbeat which can be annoying.

2. Biological Heart Valve Replacement: – Heart valve taken from donor (Donor can be human or animals like cows, pig) or created from donor tissue. This is slightly oversized valve used in children to accommodate more growth between valve replacement surgeries, no blood thinners are required after surgery & women of child bearing age have lower risk as compared to artificial valve. But at the same time it is not strong as artificial valves & can wear out in 12-15 years, so require additional surgery when worn out.

3. Hybrid Heart Valve Replacement:-It combines part of artificial & part of biological valve & advantages & disadvantages differ between brands.

Risk for surgery include: – Bleeding, Blood Clots, Heart attack, Irregular heartbeat, Kidney Failure, Stroke or even death.