ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Aortic Valve Replacement Choices

Updated on February 16, 2010

Aortic stenosis is a narrowing of the aortic valve in the heart. If the valve doesn’t open completely, it slows delivery of blood from the heart to the body. The heart then pumps harder, which weakens it and produces symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, fatigue, and fainting.

You don’t have to be a geezer or senior to get aortic stenosis. It can occur in younger people, including children. However, it’s more likely to be found in men than women.

Eventually, a doctor, usually a cardiologist, may suggest replacing the aortic valve. The patient will typically then have two primary options for heart valve replacement – mechanical or tissue valves. A third, less common option is a homograft. The following is a basic explanation of the three. It is not intended as medical advice but can help when talking to a heart doctor.

The Human Heart
The Human Heart

Mechanical heart valve

The first option for a heart valve replacement is a mechanical valve, also known as a “prosthetic” valve. This valve consists of mechanical parts made of metal, carbon, and/or synthetic material.

The advantage of a mechanical valve is its durability. It is designed to last for some 20 to 30 years, meaning more elderly patients will be less likely to need the valve replaced in their lifetimes.

The disadvantage is that because of the artificial material used, blood clotting is a risk. Blood clots can lead to heart attack or stroke. To minimize this risk, people with a mechanical valve will need to use anticoagulant medication (blood thinners) to prevent clots from forming. They will need to take the medication daily for the rest of their lives. People with this type of heart valve must also monitor their blood levels. Monitoring usually means monthly blood testing at the doctor’s office, a lab, or at home using a specialized testing kit.

Additionally, some people report hearing the clicking of their valve as it opens and closes with each heart beat.

Tissue Valve

The second most common valve used in heart valve replacement surgery is the tissue valve. It is also known as a “bioprosthetic” valve.

Tissue valves are made from pig (porcine) or cow (bovine) cardiac tissue. These animals are used because their cardiac tissue functions much like human heart valves. The animal tissue is chemically treated in order to preserve the tissue and help avoid rejection in the human body.

The advantage of tissue heart valves is that people with them usually don’t need to take lifelong anticoagulant medication (blood thinners) as required with mechanical valves.

The disadvantage is that they are not as durable as mechanical valves. This means tissue valves typically last only from 8 to 15 years. At that point, the person will need to have the valve replaced – meaning once again undergoing the risk of heart valve replacement surgery.

Choosing between types of heart valve replacements

For children and adults below the age of 60, mechanical valves may be the right choice because these people are more likely to outlive a tissue valve, which would probably require a second heart valve replacement surgery.

Tissue valves may be the right choice if the person is less likely to outlive their valve or for someone who has risks associated with taking blood thinner medication for long periods of time.

Choosing a mechanical or tissue valve is not a cut and dried decision. The patient should talk to their cardiologist and heart surgeon and do their own research. You can begin with some of the links listed below.

Homograft Valve

A homograft, also called a biologic valve, is an aortic or pulmonic valve from a donated human heart. The heart is removed from a deceased person, preserved, and frozen. Obviously, a homograft depends on the availability of a human donor whose heart has valves of the right size and length for the patient getting the valve. This means its biggest disadvantage is lack of supply.

The operation to put a homograft in is also more complex than standard heart valve replacement surgery.

On the plus side, a homograft is usually very resistant to infection and performs well. It also typically doesn’t require the patient taking blood thinner medication for life.

Homografts are expected to last longer than tissue valves, but because they have only been in use for about 15 years, this is still unknown.

Heart valve surgery summary

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      gepeTooRs 

      2 years ago

      I feel this is among the such a lot important information for me. And i am happy studying your article. But wanna commentary on few general issues, The web site taste is perfect, the articles is really excellent : D. Just right task, cheers

    • Billsnotes profile imageAUTHOR

      Billsnotes 

      6 years ago

      Thanks for your kind comment.

    • profile image

      mitral1 

      6 years ago

      Good stuff. I dont remember reading such a good article. You should write more!!!

      Heart Valve Repair

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)