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Heart Valve Replacement
What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

What is Heart Valve Replacement?

This is surgery to replace a damaged heart valve. The heart's four valves, which open and tightly close, allow blood to flow from one chamber to another. The valves also allow blood to leave the heart through the large blood vessels. The valves make it so that blood can only flow forward when the heart squeezes. Usually, only one valve is replaced at a time. But, at times, one or more valves may need to be replaced. The new heart valves can be:

  • Mechanical (metal and plastic), such as a St. Jude valve
  • Made of tissue—most commonly from a pig (porcine valve) or a cow (bovine valve), but they may also be supplied by a human donor or even manufactured from your own tissue

Aortic Valve Replacements: Mechanical vs. Tissue
Aortic Valve Replacements: Mechanical vs. Tissue
© 2009 Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

This procedure is done to repair a valve that is not functioning properly due to:

  • Congenital valvular defects
  • Narrowed, stiff valves that obstruct the free flow of blood
  • Loose, leaky valves that allow blood to flow the wrong way through the heart
  • Infected heart valves

Possible Complications

If you are planning to have heart valve replacement, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:

  • Infection
  • Blood clots formation around the valve, which can cause a stroke , kidney damage, or damage to the extremities
  • New valve does not work properly
  • Bleeding
  • Anesthesia-related problems
  • Death

Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:

  • Pre-existing heart or lung condition
  • Advanced age
  • Recent or long-term illness
  • Stroke
  • Recent infection

Call Your Doctor

After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:

  • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
  • Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or...