The heart is a pump distributing the blood to the whole body. It has a self-exciting muscle which regulates itself and it is capable of simultaneous rhythmic pulsations. It has a regulating center and four chambers separated by valves and a septum. The valves control blood flow direction during contractions and septum isolates the right and left circulation. These negative and positive pressures are responsible for creating contractions that pump blood throughout the body.
Heart Valve Surgery is performed with or without opening up the chest, and works to replace or repair heart valves which are not working correctly. The aortic valve and the mitral valve are the most commonly replaced valves. The aortic valve separates the heart’s left ventricle (the main pumping chamber) and the aorta (the major artery that carries blood to patient’s body). The mitral valve separates the left atrium from the left ventricle.
What Are The Types Of Valve Problems?
Heart valve problems make the heart work too hard. There can be abnormalities in heart valves because of birth defects, aging or due to certain diseases. Some patients are born with heart valve disease, while others develop it later in life. Heart valve diseases that develop before birth are called congenital heart valve diseases. Problems associated with heart valves include them not having enough tissue flaps, may be the wrong size or shape, or may lack an opening through which blood can flow properly.
Heart valves can have three basic kinds of problems:
- Regurgitation (valves don’t close properly or let blood leak where it shouldn’t)
- Stenosis (valves don’t open enough, don’t let enough blood to flow)
- Atresia (occurs if a heart valve lacks an opening for blood to pass through)
What Is A Valve Replacement Surgery Like?
In most cases, heart valve replacement is an open-heart surgery. This means a surgeon opens the patient’s chest before operating. In the surgery, a new artificial valve is placed while removing the damaged one. In some cases, the valve can be replaced without opening the chest, with the operating happening via a series of small incisions instead. The procedure chosen will depend on the complexity of the patient’s case, the reason the valve needs replacement, the patient’s symptoms, and the risk of surgery.
The operation is conducted under general anesthesia and generally takes between 3 and 5 hours. For most of the procedure, the patient’s heart will be temporarily stopped, with a heart-lung machine taking over the patient’s breathing and blood circulation. Alternatively, there are some procedures that may be performed on a beating heart.
What Happens After My Valve Replacement Surgery?
- Following the surgery, patient must spend some time in the intensive care unit (ICU) and medical stuff will closely monitor their recovery. After that, patients will be moved to a hospital room.
- In a one day or two, you will be able to sit up and walk around.
- Patients can expect spending 4-7 days in the hospital.
- Those who have had heart valve repair or replacement surgery (open heart surgery) can usually fly after 10-15 days (longer if they have had pulmonary complications and if it is a more complex case).