The goal of heart valve surgery is to restore the function of your heart valves after disease or damage.
What is heart valve disease?
There are several types of heart valve disease that can decrease or damage the functioning of your heart. They include:
- Aortic stenosis: narrowing of the aortic valve, one of the most common conditions requiring valve replacement.
- Mitral stenosis: another condition that sometimes requires valve surgery.
- Aortic regurgitation: when the valve allows blood to return back into the heart preventing forward flow out to the body. Also known as aortic insufficiency.
- Mitral regurgitation: when the mitral valve allows blood to flow backwards into the lungs instead of continuing through the heart as it should. You may experience difficulty breathing, irregular heartbeat and chest pain.
Learn more about valve disorders.
What is the purpose of heart valve surgery?
The goal of heart valve surgery is to restore the function of your heart valves, whether they are diseased or damaged. Based on your condition, your surgeon will have determined if your valve is able to be repaired or need to be replaced.
What kind of valve will be used?
There are two kinds of artificial valves available. Artificial valves are identified as either mechanical or tissue valves.
Mechanical valves are made from durable metals. The valve produces a soft click when it shuts which may bother some patients although most people adjust quickly to the sound. Tissue valves are most commonly made from tissue taken from pigs although tissue from cows, horses or humans can also be used.
A mechanical valve lasts longer than a tissue valve, but with this valve, you must take blood-thinning medication for the rest of your life in order to reduce the risk of clots. The main advantage of a tissue valve is that these medications are not needed. Your surgeon will discuss valve replacement options with you.
The following resources have information heart valve surgery:
- Heart and Stroke Foundation: Heart valve surgery
- Fraser Health Patient Education: After heart bypass and valve surgery (recovery and home)
- Fraser Health Patient Education: After heart bypass surgery and/or aneurysm repair (recovery at home)
- American Heart and Stroke Foundation: Types of replacement heart valves
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: Tissue and mechanical heart valves