Patients who are suffering from aortic stenosis or aortic insufficiency are suitable for aortic valve replacement. Also, the patients who are not suitable for an open-heart surgery can have aortic valve replacement since there are other less invasive alternatives and TAVR.
7 - 10 days
3 to 6 hours
When can I get back to sports after the surgery?
after 4 to 6 weeks
A couple of days before the aortic valve replacement preparation for the procedure begins. Patients should inform their doctor about the medicines they are taking. Before the operation, the doctor may ask for the patient to stop taking some of the medications with blood-thinning qualities such as aspirin due to the risk of excessive bleeding. Also, smoking must be avoided. During the surgery day, the patient should not eat or drink since the stomach needs to be empty to make room for the operating cardiologist. Paying attention to these precautionary steps increases the safety of aortic valve replacement surgery.
Aortic valve replacement can be performed in 3 different ways:
• Classical aortic valve replacement – this operation is an open heart surgery while performing the procedure, the surgeon makes an incision through the sternum to reach the heart and then replace the damaged aortic valve with a new implant of a heart valve.
• MICS (minimally invasive cardiac surgery) – In this type of operation doctors make a smaller incision than in the case of classical aortic valve replacement and the doctors place the new heart valve with the help of a special set of medical tools.
• TAVR (Transcatheter aortic valve replacement) – During the TAVR the new heart valve is delivered through the caterer rather than with longer incisions.
However, classical aortic valve replacement is the most common type of aortic valve replacement. Other types are performed only when the patient cannot undergo open-heart surgery.
Aortic valve replacement operation has a long recovery period since it is a serious practice that is usually performed as open-heart surgery. A couple of weeks after returning home, the patient should focus on resting rather than restoring physical activities. 6 weeks after the aortic valve replacement operation, patients can start working or doing sports. However, the total recovery period of aortic valve replacement may last around 12 weeks.
Aortic valve replacement is a serious operation that involves several risks and complications, including:
• Excessive bleeding
• Kidney failure
• Allergic reaction to medicines
• Problems with breathing
• Nerve damage
• Heart attack
• In extreme cases – death
The most important part of aortic valve replacement is its long recovery period that might last up to 12 weeks. During the first couple of days, a temporary pacemaker might be attached to the patient’s heart. Likewise, a tube might be attached to the patient’s chest to drain fluids. After the operation for a couple of days or even weeks, the patient might feel pain, but it can be managed with painkillers that are prescribed by your cardiologist.
It is estimated that only around 5% of patients die as a result of aortic valve replacement. Therefore, it can be said that aortic valve replacement has a success rate close to 95%.
With time, the patient would realize the difference between the conditions before and after the operation. The patient’s heart would be working more properly, and the symptoms of heart valve diseases would disappear, which leads to a better and healthier life.
What is better: Animal or Mechanical Heart Valve?
There is no better type. Depending on the patient’s condition the procedure differs. Mechanical heart valve might be better for some of the patients while in some cases organic heart valve can be the right choice. This decision should be discussed with the doctors about the advantages and disadvantages of the procedures.
What Can Heart Valve Diseases Be Dealt with by Aortic Valve Replacement?There are two main diseases which require treatment by aortic valve replacement surgery. These are; aortic stenosis (the light of the valve is too small to pump all the blood) and aortic insufficiency (when a heart valve is not closing completely).
Which Technique is Better: Classical Aortic Valve Replacement or TAVR?
Most of the time for the patients who are suffering from aortic stenosis or aortic insufficiency, classical aortic valve replacement is suggested by cardiologists. Currently, TAVR and MISC are used predominantly in cases where the patient cannot undergo open-heart surgery.
This content is written and reviewed by our medical content team in September, 2019.