Heart Valve Replacement

This is surgery to replace a damaged heart valve. The heart's four valves open and tightly close. The tricuspid and mitral valves allow blood to flow from one chamber to another. The pulmonary and aortic valves allow blood to flow to the large blood vessels. The valves make it so that blood can only flow forward when the heart squeezes. Usually, only one valve is replaced at a time. However, at times, one or more valves may need to be replaced. The new heart valves can be:

  • Call Your Doctor

    After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:

    • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
    • Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or discharge from the incision site
    • Nausea and/or vomiting that you cannot control with the medicines you were given after surgery, or which persist for more than two days after discharge from the hospital
    • Pain that you cannot control with the medicines you have been given
    • Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
    • Coughing up blood
    • Rapid heart rate
    • Sudden headache or feeling faint
    • Problems with vision or speaking
    • Numbness or weakness on one side of your body
    • Inability to urinate
    • Pain, burning, urgency, frequency of urination, or persistent bleeding in the urine
    • Pain and/or swelling in your feet, calves, or legs

    In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.

  • Definition

    This is surgery to replace a damaged heart valve. The heart's four valves open and tightly close. The tricuspid and mitral valves allow blood to flow from one chamber to another. The pulmonary and aortic valves allow blood to flow to the large blood vessels. The valves make it so that blood can only flow forward when the heart squeezes. Usually, only one valve is replaced at a time. However, at times, one or more valves may need to be replaced. The new heart valves can be:

    • Mechanical, made of metal and plastic, such as a St. Jude valve
    • Made of tissue—most commonly from a pig or a cow, but they may also be supplied by a human donor or even made from your own tissue
    Aortic Valve Replacements: Mechanical vs. Tissue
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  • What to Expect

  • Reasons for Procedure

    This procedure is done to repair a valve that is not functioning properly due to:

    • Congenital defects
    • Narrowed, stiff valves that obstruct the free flow of blood
    • Loose, leaky valves that allow blood to flow the wrong way through the heart
    • Infected heart valves

  • Possible Complications

    If you are planning to have heart valve replacement, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:

    • Infection

    • Blood clots forming around the valve, which can cause a
      stroke,, myocardial infarction, kidney damage, or damage to the extremities
    • New valve does not work properly
    • Bleeding
    • Anesthesia-related problems
    • Death

    Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:

    • Smoking
    • Pre-existing heart or lung condition
    • Increased age
    • Recent or long-term illness
    • Recent infection