Heart Valve Replacement

Valve damage means either of the 4 valves of the heart namely tricuspid, pulmonary, mitral, and aortic is damaged and needs a repair or replacement. Valve repair cannot be done in all cases which calls for a valve replacement. In such cases, which include severe valve damage, the valve must be replaced and most often involves the aortic or mitral valve. Valve replacement is also performed to treat any valve disease that is life-threatening. Some patients may need more than one valve repaired and/or replaced. Two kinds of valves can be used for replacement namely the Mechanical valves and the Biological valves.

Symptoms of Heart Valve Replacement may include

  • Unusual fatigue (tiredness).
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Dizziness.
  • Irregular heartbeat.
  • Nausea.
  • Shortness of breath, especially when you exert yourself or when you're lying down.
  • Fainting.
  • Infections of a valve would cause fever, chills, night sweats, paleness, weakness.
  • Swelling in many parts of the body including ankles, feet, legs, abdomen, and veins in the neck.
  • Fluttering, racing, or irregular heartbeat.
  • Sudden weight loss.
  • Sudden weight gain.

Methods of Early Diagnostics

  • Listening to heart beat.
  • Cardiac catheterization or angiogram.
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG).
  • Chest x-ray.
  • Performing tests during exercise to trigger symptoms or to see how the valve changes with exertion.
  • Echocardiogram.

Types of Heart Valve Replacement

  • Mechanical Valve Replacement - Mechanical valves are usually made from materials like plastic, carbon, or metal. Mechanical valves are strong and often last a long time. Because blood tends to stick to mechanical valves and create blood clots, patients with these valves will have to take blood-thinning medicines (called anticoagulants) for the rest of their lives.
  • Biological Valve Replacement -  Also, known as Donor Valve Implantation uses Biological valves which are made from animal tissue (called a xenograft) and/or taken from the human tissue of a donated heart (called an allograft or homograft). Sometimes, a patient's own tissue can be used for valve replacement and is called as an autograft. Patients with biological valves generally do not need to take blood-thinning medicines. These valves are not as strong as mechanical valves and they may need to be replaced every 10 years or so. Biological valves break down even faster in children and young adults and therefore, these valves are used most often in elderly patients.

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