Heart Valve Replacement- Cardiology
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Doctors: Cardiologist, Cardiac Surgeon
What is heart valve?
Heart valves open and close with each heartbeat and hence they have a key role in one-way blood flow.
What is heart valve replacement?
Heart valves need to be repaired or replaced if they are damaged or do not function properly. Severely damaged heart valves need to be replaced.
Two types of valves can be used for replacement:
- Mechanical valves: They are generally made from materials such as plastic, carbon, or metal. They are strong and last a long time. Patients with theses valves are required to take blood-thinning medicines to prevent any blood clots.
- Biological valves: They are made from animal tissue (known as a xenograft) or acquired from the human tissue of a donated heart (known as an allograft or homograft) or patient’s own tissue (known as an autograft). These valves might need to be replaced every 10 years or so.
On the day of the surgery, patient is given anesthesia. To do the valve replacement, it is necessary to stop the patient’s heart. Hence, tubes are put into the heart so that the blood can be pumped through the body by a heart-lung bypass machine while the patient’s heart is stopped. Next, the doctor will remove the diseased valve and put in the artificial valve. Once the surgery is done, the heart is given shock with small paddles to restart the heartbeat. At this point, the blood circulating through the bypass machine starts to re-enter the heart. And the tubes attached to the bypass machine are removed. The incision is closed with sutures and sterile bandages are applied.
What to expect after the procedure?
Right after the surgery, patient is shifted to intensive care unit for monitoring. Patient’s heartrate, blood pressure and other parameters are monitored closely for several days in the hospital. Depending on the patient’s condition, doctor may allow the patient to go home. Patient is recommended to avoid any heavy activities and to do regular follow-ups.