Until recently, aortic valve stenosis treatment typically involved replacing its valve. This surgery involved extracting one valve and installing another one as soon as possible.
The aortic valve replacement is an important part of your heart that controls the flow of blood from your aorta (the main artery that transports it outward from your heart). Replacement can be achieved either through open-heart surgery or minimally invasive methods which involve smaller incisions than open-heart procedures.
1. Getting Started
When treating heart valve disease, your health care team will work with you to create an individualized treatment plan based on factors like age and the type of valve present – as well as any others which affect your well-being.
One of the most frequent types of aortic valve disease is known as aortic stenosis (or aortic regurgitation). When this condition develops, your heart must work harder to pump blood. As a result, you may feel short of breath and fatigued.
If you suffer from aortic stenosis, your physician may suggest surgery to replace your aortic valve. Traditional open-heart procedures involve opening up your chest bone (sternotomy).
Balloon valvuloplasty, more commonly referred to as transcatheter aortic valve replacement or TAVR, offers a noninvasive solution to treating aortic stenosis. A surgeon uses a thin tube called a catheter inserted through your blood vessel in the groin and threaded into your heart with an inflatable balloon at its tip which is used to widen narrowed aortic valves.
Biological valves, which are made from animal tissue, can often help patients suffering from aortic stenosis or mitral regurgitation. Unlike mechanical valves, biological ones don’t require taking blood-thinning drugs over the lifetime of treatment – thus decreasing the risk of complications like stroke.
At the core of any successful aortic and mitral valve replacement is finding the appropriate type of valve for both body type and age. Most physicians currently recommend mechanical valves for younger individuals while biological options should be selected for those over 40.
Although both types of valves are safe, their choice depends on an individual patient’s particular risk and preferences. For instance, diabetic patients might benefit from using biological valves to limit clot formation.
As another option, those who are overweight or have had high blood pressure before might benefit more from a mechanical valve than a biological one. Mechanical valves are very durable; however, their effects in terms of blood pressure reduction may not compare favorably.
2. Preparing for Surgery
Preparing for surgery requires both physical and mental preparation. By taking good care of yourself in both areas, taking proactive steps can improve overall health and recovery post-surgery while increasing chances of a successful procedure.
Before your surgery, discuss with your doctor any steps you should take to prepare. These may include quitting smoking and alcohol consumption as well as getting plenty of rest.
Make sure that you eat healthily and remain physically active, as exercise helps alleviate stress. Consider relaxation exercises like meditation, breathing exercises, or listening to music as ways of keeping calm in a hospital setting.
Your doctor may suggest dietary and medication adjustments prior to surgery in order to speed up recovery time and limit complications.
Aortic valve replacement surgery entails surgically replacing an injured heart valve with an artificial one. There are various kinds of artificial valves, from those manufactured artificially (machinery) and biological valves (made from human or animal tissue) which can be utilized.
Your doctor will decide which valve type best meets your condition, such as aortic valve replacement. Or you could benefit from minimally invasive, catheter-based replacement (known as transcatheter aortic valve replacement or TAVR).
Prior to surgery, your doctor will give you instructions on how to prepare. These typically include washing with special antiseptic soap, taking off jewelry or body piercings as appropriate, and wearing clean clothes.
Arrive early so you have enough time to complete all the preparations, meet with your surgical team and answer any questions about the procedure.
After having surgery, you will spend some time recovering in the hospital before possibly being transferred to an intensive care unit (ICU). While here, medications will be administered through intravenous (IV) lines while possibly tubes will also be placed to drain excess fluid from your lungs or heart.
As part of your ICU stay and hospital recovery, you may require the use of respirators or oxygen therapy. Antibiotics will also be prescribed in order to prevent infections; additionally, postoperative care might involve blood thinners for some period.
3. During Surgery
If your aortic valve has become diseased or damaged, surgery may be required to repair or replace it. Before and during this procedure, you will be provided with assistance by the care team to stay comfortable throughout. They will also assess your health to ensure a swift recovery after any surgery performed on you.
Your doctor will administer anesthesia to put you to sleep and minimize any pain or discomfort during the procedure. A heart-lung bypass machine may be attached, keeping blood flowing freely during surgery. An incision will also be made in your chest (sternotomy) so the team can directly access your heart.
After having your aortic valve repaired or replaced, you’ll likely spend at least one or more nights in the hospital. Your physician will check on your vitals, such as heart rate and oxygen intake levels to make sure you’re healing appropriately. Before leaving the hospital you must also take antibiotics and may need additional support postoperatively.
Your surgeon will use a tube (catheter) to guide the new valve into place while inflating an inflatable balloon on the end of it which expands it and widens your narrowed valve.
The Aortic Valve (AV) is one of the four valves in the heart that regulate blood flow. When your heart contracts, opening and closing this valve allows blood from your left ventricle to travel into your aorta – when your heart relaxes it closes shut to prevent backflow of blood into your left ventricle.
Aortic stenosis is one of the leading causes of heart valve problems. Stenosis causes the leaflets of the aortic valve to stiffen and fuse together, thickening tissue layers and making it more difficult for it to open fully.
If you have aortic stenosis, your physician may advise undergoing aortic valve surgery to replace its dysfunctional part and potentially improve health and decrease risks related to other heart issues.
Your doctor will first conduct a comprehensive assessment to ascertain if surgery is right for you, including asking about your medical history, symptoms, and test results. An electrocardiogram and chest x-ray will be conducted as additional diagnostic steps to understand your current condition.
4. Post Surgery
Your aortic valve regulates the flow of blood from your heart into the main artery (aorta). Composed of thin flaps that open and close as necessary to keep blood moving freely through its passageway, an effective aortic valve can keep all aspects of health running smoothly – an ineffective one can make pumping enough blood out difficult, leading to serious health complications for you as a person.
Luckily, aortic valves can be repaired or replaced successfully to restore normal heart function and ward off complications like heart failure or death.
Aortic valves are constructed from tissue that over time may become thick and rigid, restricting or blocking blood flow through their opening – this condition is known as aortic valve stenosis. Leakage also occurs, permitting blood to backflow backward into the heart.
When your aortic valve stenosis is severe, your doctor may suggest undergoing aortic valve replacement surgery, which involves replacing it with an artificial one. This procedure can either involve traditional open heart surgery or using transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), an alternative less invasive minimally invasive solution.
For older patients with aortic stenosis, transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) offers an affordable and less invasive alternative to open heart surgery. Your physician inserts a catheter through an incision in your groin into your affected aortic valve before expanding it to reopen it.
While TAVR may offer promising new possibilities to some individuals living with aortic stenosis, it may not be suitable for everyone. An aortic valve is a complex and delicate structure.
Therefore, it is critical that after having surgery on your aortic valve you have an excellent healthcare team in place to monitor it closely and achieve the best possible outcome. Be sure to visit with your healthcare provider frequently and follow instructions regarding recovery.
As part of your recovery, it will be essential that you take medications and rest after surgery. Furthermore, strenuous activity or lifting heavy objects should be avoided for several weeks postoperatively; and regular checkups with your physician must take place so they can monitor how your aortic valve functions properly.
Aortic valve replacement surgery is a life-saving procedure for patients with severe aortic valve disease. Timely diagnosis, intervention, and long-term management are crucial for the success of the surgery and the patient’s long-term prognosis.
The lifespan of an aortic valve replacement depends on various factors, such as the type of valve used, the patient’s age, overall health, and lifestyle. A mechanical valve can last up to 20 years with proper care, while a tissue valve may last 10 to 15 years. In some cases, a valve may fail earlier, requiring another surgery.
Aortic valve replacement surgery involves removing the diseased aortic valve and replacing it with either a mechanical or tissue valve. The surgery is usually performed under general anesthesia and may be done through traditional open-heart surgery or minimally invasive techniques.
The risk factors for needing an aortic valve replacement include age, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, and a history of heart disease. Aortic valve disease may also be caused by congenital abnormalities or infections.
Yes, with proper care and management, a person can live a normal life after aortic valve replacement surgery. The patient will need to follow up regularly with their cardiologist, take prescribed medications, and make lifestyle changes such as a heart-healthy diet and regular exercise.
There are alternative treatments to aortic valve replacement surgery, such as balloon valvuloplasty, which involves using a balloon catheter to widen the aortic valve. However, this procedure is usually reserved for patients who are not suitable candidates for surgery or as a temporary measure before surgery.