Why is it done?

Your heart failure may have been caused by a defective or diseased heart valve. Heart valves direct the one-way flow of blood inside your heart. Valves can either become narrowed, leak or both. If they don't work properly this puts extra strain on the heart and can lead to heart failure. This problem can be improved or cured by surgery, but will usually only be done if the anticipated benefits of surgery are likely to outweigh the risks.

What does it involve?

During the operation, you will be connected to a heart-lung machine that supplies blood to the brain and body and the defective valve is removed and replaced.

Your doctor will discuss which type of valve is suitable for you:

  • A mechanical valve (carbon, metal or plastic valve)
  • A metal or plastic valve
  • A valve made from human tissue or other animal tissue (usually from pigs)

In some circumstances the valve can be repaired without artificial materials, or the need for open heart surgery. Such procedures like mitral valvuloplasty or transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) are performed from the groin under local anaesthetic.

Following surgery, you may need to take medicine (anticoagulants ) to prevent blood clots from forming around your new heart valve. This is normally not required with tissue valves.

If any other type of surgery is required at a later date, you will usually be given an antibiotic to prevent valve infection.

Questions to ask your doctor:

  • What are the risks associated with this surgery?
  • How long will I be in hospital?
  • How long will I take to recover?
  • What level of physical activity am I allowed to do after surgery?
  • What medicines will I have to take following the surgery?


She felt wonderful after her mitral valve was replaced She felt wonderful after her mitral valve was replaced

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