Valves are made of cusps or flaps which open and close with every heartbeat. However, the flaps that do not open and close properly disturb the blood flow from the heart to the body.
In heart valve replacement, the surgeons repair and replace the infected heart valves. There are a few types of valve replacement surgery that help replace and repair heart valves.
Types of Valve Replacement Surgery
There are 4 types of heart valve replacement surgeries:
- Aortic Valve Replacement
- Mitral Valve Replacement
- Double Valve Replacement
- Pulmonary Valve Replacement
Aortic Valve Replacement
The aortic valve serves as an outflow valve on the left side of the heart. It connects the left ventricle to the aorta. The left ventricle is the heart’s main pumping chamber which pumps blood into the aorta and then to the other parts of the body. The job of the aortic valve is to close after the ventricle pumps the blood so that there is no backflow of the blood into the left ventricle.
In cases where the aortic valve stops functioning correctly or due to a congenital defect or diseases causing stenosis or regurgitation, you may require an aortic valve replacement surgery.
Mitral Valve Replacement
The mitral valve is placed between the left atrium and left ventricle. The responsibility of the mitral valve is to serve as an inflow valve. Hence, this valve allows the blood from the left atrium to flow into the left ventricle.
When the flaps do not close properly, the blood can flow back into the lungs. This can be due to a degenerative disease, congenital defect, or infection.
Double Valve Replacement
A double valve replacement surgery is a surgical replacement of both aortic and mitral valves or the entire left side of the heart. This surgery is not as common as others and death risks are slightly higher than others.
A person undergoing double heart valve replacement surgery should discuss possible risks and health threats before the surgery.
Pulmonary Valve Replacement
The pulmonary valve separates the pulmonary artery that carries blood to lungs for oxygenation and the right ventricle. Narrowing of the pulmonary valve can be due to a congenital defect or infection.
Depending on age, fitness, health condition and severity of the heart valve issue, a person is suggested to undergo the surgery.
What is Heart Valve Replacement for?
The four valves are responsible for allowing blood to flow through via different chambers of the heart. Each flap of the four valves should close completely after blood flow. However, when the valves do not close completely, it pushes the blood backwards. This is called regurgitation and based on the seriousness of it, a heart valve replacement may be suggested.
Valvular heart disease signs include:
- Chest pain
- Breathing issues
- Fluid retention, especially in the lower limbs
What are the Risks of Heart Valve Replacement?
The following are the possible risks of heart valve replacement surgery:
- Infection in the endocarditis (new valve) is more common post valve replacement
- Blood clots that may cause heart attack or stroke and lung problems
- Arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms)
- Breathing issues
- Damage to the blood vessels or bleeding during or after treatment
- Side effects of anaesthesia
- Valve failure
- Infection at the incision area
How to Prepare for Heart Valve Replacement?
Here is the list of things that you should consider before undergoing heart valve replacement: