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What is Valve Replacement?
Blood flows through the human heart in only one direction and valves of the heart play an essential role in this blood flow as they open and close with every beat of the heart. There are pressure changes on both sides of the valve to open them up like doors and then close to prevent the blood from flowing back. The heart has 4 valves – aortic, mitral, pulmonary and tricuspid. If any of these valves malfunctions there can be a disruption of the normal unidirectional flow of blood. In some cases the valves are so damaged that they have to be replaced with prosthetic valves or repaired with surgery. This surgery is known as heart valve replacement surgery and is usually done to replace or repair the aortic or mitral valves. The mitral and aortic valves are on the left side of the heart which works more than the right side. The mitral and aortic valve controls the flow of oxygenated blood to the rest of the body from the lungs.
Heart valve replacement surgery is performed when one or different valves in the heart don’t work properly. In a healthy heart, the valves open and close once during each heartbeat which ensures that the blood flows in the right direction.
Two kinds of valves are used for replacement:
- Mechanical valves – These are made from materials like carbon, plastic or metal. These valves are durable and strong and have a long lifespan. The negative aspect of these valves is that sometimes the blood can form clots by sticking to valves. This is the reason that patients with mechanical valves have to take blood thinning drugs.
- Biological valves – These valves are made from animal tissue or the tissue may be taken from a donated human heart. Sometimes the individual’s tissue can also be used making this valve. These valves aren’t as sturdy as the mechanical ones and have to be replaced every decade or so. These valves are usually used in elderly patients as in adults and children they tend to break down fast.
Need for Valve Replacement
Usually with lesser damage of the aortic or mitral valve, help of medicines is taken to control the situation. However, in case of more severe damage, surgery is required to repair or replace the valves.
Heart Valve Problems Treated With Surgery
In heart valve replacement surgery the surgeon takes two approaches.
- The doctors may repair the valve. While repairing the valve the doctors may tighten the valve by sewing a ring around the opening. The valve can also be cut or separated in order to function properly.
- In the second approach, the surgeon may completely replace the valve with a prosthetic. The prosthetic can be mechanical which can be made from the artificial material.
Let us look at the situations in which heart valve replacement becomes necessary:
- Narrowed valve – The most common reason for the replacement of the aortic valve is the narrowing of the valve. Another condition which requires valve replacement surgery is mitral stenosis.
- Leaking valves – Aortic insufficiency or aortic regurgitation is another problem commonly related to the heart valve which can require the replacement of the valve. This is a condition in which the valve is not able to prevent the back flow of the blood into the heart instead of causing it to move forward. Heart failure can occur if this condition is not treated properly and on time.
- Mitral regurgitation – In this condition, the mitral valve is not able to stop the oxygen rich blood from flowing back into the lungs instead of flowing through the heart and to the rest of the body. The symptoms of this condition include irregular heartbeats, short breath and chest pain.
Hear Valve Replacement Surgery Procedure
Before the Procedure
The length of the procedure depends on the extent of the ailment and a good surgeon will always discuss this with the patient. It is a good idea to talk with members of the team performing the surgery including the surgeon, anesthesiologist, cardiologist, nurses and respiratory therapist. Also discuss with your family members the details of the operation. You will be sent to the intensive care unit for post operative recovery, so it is a good idea to visit this also.
During the Procedure
If it is an open heart surgery, you will be given general anesthesia and you will sleep through the process. The heart is temporarily stopped and you are put on a heart/lung machine. Sometimes the procedure can also be performed on a beating heart.
After the Procedure
All incisions are closed once the surgeon has ensured that the heart valve has been repaired and the heart is beating. Some time in intensive care is required for recovery. The extent of hospitalization depends on your recovery rate and the doctor’s discretion.
What to Expect After Surgery?
Most people are able to live full and healthy lives after heart valve replacement surgery. However, some lifestyle changes are necessary to live with a prosthetic valve. Regular medication is part of these changes and so are follow up visits to the doctor.
Benefits Of Heart Valve Replacement Surgery
If heart valve damage is not treated on time and properly then it can result in major consequences like heart failure. On the other hand after this surgery a person can live an almost normal life, with a little care to make sure that he or she is getting most out of the new valve.
Connect with IndiaMedTrip
Heart valve replacement surgery can be very expensive in western countries whereas in India it is available at very affordable prices. World class healthcare facilities and highly qualified doctors are available in India which makes it a prime destination for medical tourism.
Connect with IndianMedTrip.com to get a satisfactory result in response to your need of heart valve replacement surgery in India. You can get in touch us for all the detailed information and we will help you understand the complete procedure with an assurance of successful surgeries by qualified heart specialists.