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Heart surgery

Learn more about treatment for heart valve disease and how we can help you recover.

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Overview

Surgery to replace damaged heart valves is a treatment option. One or more of the four heart valves are malfunctioning as a result of cardiac valve disease. Heart valves ensure that blood travels through the heart in the right direction.

The mitral valve, tricuspid valve, pulmonary valve, and aortic valve are the four heart valves. Each valve has flaps that are referred to as cusps for the aortic and pulmonary valves and leaflets for the mitral and tricuspid valves. Each heartbeat should cause these flaps to open and close once. Blood flow via the heart to the body is disrupted when valves don’t open or close appropriately.

In heart valve surgery, the damaged or unhealthy heart valve or valves are repaired or replaced. Heart valves can be repaired or replaced surgically using a variety of techniques, such as open heart surgery or minimally invasive heart surgery.

The kind of heart valve surgery required will depend on your age, general health, and the type and degree of your heart valve condition, among other things.

Why is it done?

To treat heart valve disease, heart valve surgery is performed. Heart valve issues typically fall into one of two categories:

tightening of a valve (stenosis)

a valve leak that causes reverse blood flow (regurgitation)

If your heart valve disease is impairing your heart’s capacity to pump blood, you may require heart valve surgery.

Your doctor could advise regular monitoring of the heart valve disease if you don’t have any symptoms or signs of it or if your condition is minor. Symptom management may be aided by medication and lifestyle changes.

Sometimes, even in the absence of symptoms, doctors will advise heart valve surgery. Doctors may do cardiac surgery for another problem while also replacing or repairing your heart valves. Your doctor and you should talk about whether you are a candidate for heart valve surgery and whether minimally invasive heart surgery is an option.

Your valve can eventually require maintenance or replacement. Even if you are symptom-free in some circumstances, doctors may advise heart valve repair or replacement. The damaged heart valve may be repaired or replaced at the same time as the heart surgery you need for another problem.

Your doctor will talk to you about whether a heart valve replacement or repair is better for your condition. As it retains your heart valve and might preserve heart function, doctors frequently advise heart valve repair when it is feasible. The best course of action, however, is occasionally valve replacement.

Additionally, doctors may determine whether you are a candidate for minimally invasive cardiac surgery. Your physician will go over the advantages and disadvantages of each procedure.

Choose a medical facility that has performed several heart valve surgeries if you require heart valve surgery.

Risks

Risks associated with heart valve surgery include:

Bleeding

chest pain

Infection

dysfunctional valves impacting newly installed valves

abnormal cardiac beat (arrhythmia)

Stroke\sDeath

How you get ready

The medical staff will go over your heart valve surgery with you and address any concerns you may have. Talk to your family about how they can help you when you get home after your hospital stay and before you are in for heart valve surgery.

medicines and food

Consult your doctor before undergoing heart valve surgery about:

When and if you can have surgery while still taking your normal drugs

allergies or adverse drug responses you’ve experienced

When to stop consuming food and liquids the night before surgery

Personal items and clothing

Your medical team may advise you to bring the following items to the hospital if you need to have a heart valve replaced:

a list of the drugs you take

hearing aids, dentures, or eyeglasses

Personal care products such a toothbrush, comb, shaving kit, and more toothbrushes

Comfortable, loose clothing

a copy of your power of attorney

Items that promote relaxation, such as books or portable music players

Don’t wear: during heart valve surgery.

Jewelry

Eyeglasses

Utilizing contacts

Dentures

nails polished

The areas where the incisions will be made may require shaving of your body hair. Your skin may be washed with a specific soap to help stave off infection.

What to anticipate

Throughout the process

To put you in a state similar to sleep throughout the procedure, anesthetics will be administered. A heart-lung bypass machine will be attached to you; it will keep your blood pumping throughout the treatment.

Standard open-heart surgery, which involves cutting your chest open through your breastbone, can be used to do heart valve surgery. Compared to open heart surgery, minimally invasive cardiac surgery uses smaller incisions.

A small incision in the chest, surgery employing long instruments inserted via one or more small incisions in the chest (thoracoscopic surgery), or surgery carried out by a surgeon assisted by a robot are all examples of minimally invasive heart surgery (robot-assisted heart surgery).

In comparison to open heart surgery, minimally invasive heart surgery may result in a shorter hospital stay, a quicker recovery, and less pain. Ideal locations for minimally invasive heart surgery include hospitals with medical staffs skilled in carrying out such operations.

repair of heart valves

When a heart valve may be saved and repaired, your doctor may frequently advise doing so because it could keep your heart from failing. Surgery to repair heart valves might involve:

repairing valve leaks

reattaching the valve flaps (leaflets or cusps)

removing surplus valve tissue to enable tight closure of the leaflets or cusps

Changing the valve’s support wires to restore the structural support

separating fusion-prone valve flaps

adjusting or strengthening the ring that surrounds the valve (annulus)

With the aid of clips, plugs, or other tools, several heart valve repair procedures are performed using a long, thin tube (catheter).

A catheter treatment known as balloon valvuloplasty may be used by doctors to fix a valve with a constricted valve opening. A small, flexible tube (catheter) with a balloon on the tip is inserted by a doctor into an artery in your arm or groin and is then guided to the malfunctioning valve.

When the balloon is inflated, the heart valve’s opening enlarges. After deflating the balloon, medical professionals take out the catheter and balloon.

replacement of the heart valve

The heart valve may need to be replaced if it cannot be mended and a catheter-based treatment is not an option. Your doctor removes the heart valve and replaces it with either a mechanical valve or a valve manufactured from cow, pig, or human heart tissue to replace a heart valve (biological tissue valve).

Biological valves frequently need to be changed at some point because they degrade with time. In order to prevent blood clots if you have a mechanical valve, you will need to take blood-thinning drugs for the rest of your life. You and your doctor will go over the advantages and disadvantages of each type of valve.

Some heart valves may be replaced using a minimally invasive catheter surgery. For instance, a catheter operation might be used to install a replacement valve in a heart valve that is no longer functioning effectively.

following the procedure

You’ll often stay in the intensive care unit for a day or longer following your heart valve surgery (ICU). Through an IV, you’ll get fluids and medication. Other tubes remove blood and fluid from the chest as well as urine from the bladder. Oxygen may be administered to you using a mask or nasal prongs.

After your stay in the ICU is over, you’ll probably be transferred to another hospital room for a few days. The length of your hospital stay will depend on the surgery and your health.

Your medical team will keep an eye on your condition and look for any signs of infection at the incision sites after heart valve surgery. Your heart rate, respiration, and blood pressure will all be monitored by the team. Additionally, the staff will assist with you to manage any post-operative pain you experience.

You’ll probably be instructed to perform breathing exercises as you recuperate, walk frequently to gradually raise your activity level, and cough.

During your recuperation, you’ll be given guidelines to adhere to, such as:

keeping an eye out for infection symptoms in your incisions

Using prescription drugs

Taking good care of incisions

Managing your post-surgery pain and other negative effects

Results

Your doctor will let you know when you can resume normal activities following heart valve surgery.

You’ll have to go to your doctor’s follow-up appointments on a frequent basis. Several tests may be performed on you to assess and track your condition.

To keep your heart healthy, your doctor may advise making healthy lifestyle adjustments. Changes in lifestyle that promote heart health include:

consuming a balanced diet

Regularly exercising

controlling stress

not using tobacco