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Heart Valve Replacement 

The heart valve replacement surgery is a major surgery of heart that involves replacement of a malfunctioning mitral or aortic valve that may lead to poor blood circulation in the chambers of heart due to narrow path or valve had become leaky. The replacement is done either with animal tissue or a mechanical valve made up of metal, plastic or carbon. In some cases, certain Homo graphs are used as replacements obtained as a donation from human donors. The metal valves are sturdier and last longer compared to the animal tissue valve.

Aortic stenosis is measured as the third most common cardiovascular disease, mainly in the form of a congenital defect; found in almost 4 out of1000 live births. One of the first successful aortic valve replacement surgery performed by Hufnagel in 1952., which imbibed interest for researches in many heart surgeons  for the treatment of aortic stenosis, which was earlier considered as incurable before 1950.

Necessity of Heart Valve Replacement:

  • A leaky heart valve which is led due to defects in medication, calcium deposits, infection or due to inborn reasons
  • Narrow heart valve


The symptoms caused by a defective heart valve are

  • Palpitation
  • Angina – chest pain
  • Paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnoea (PND)-  awakes the patient from sleep due to a sudden breathing difficulty at night or early morning    
  • Having much discomfort in breathing normally
  • Narrowing of aortic valves that causes black outs
  • High temperature of the body

Benefits of Heart Valve Replacement:

  • 80%of the patients who undergo this treatment  are able to survive the first post operative year and are able to return their routine activities
  •  Upon successful surgery, there is a total relief from pains and it further prevents the risk of heart failure and debilitating symptoms
  • The replaced mechanical valve may last for the whole life, when compared to the long tenure capacity of animal tissue valve
  • Highly dependable surgery since there are good chances of success

Risk/complications associated with valve replacement surgery:

  • Infection and bleeding
  • Breathing problems
  • Heart attack or stroke
  • Heart rhythm problems- arrhythmia
  • Medicinal or anesthetic reaction
  • Kidney problems may arise
  • In order to reduce the risk of developing  blood clots, patients who choose for metal valve need to intake blood thinner medicines throughout their life
  • There are fair chances of risky leakage or malfunctioning of the replaced heart valve, which may required another surgery.
  • In case of aged people, it takes longer time for coping up with the surgery
  • Sometimes the treatment can lead to lack of mental clarity or confusion
  • Unfortunately, 5% mortality risk is involved with surgery

Preparation before valve replacement surgery:

  • A total physical examination is needed
  • Blood and urinalysis may be asked to be taken
  • Further, diagnostic test such as ECG, stress tests, cardiac catheterization, and x-rays may be instructed
  • Consult the surgeon beforehand and note down the list of medicines to be continued or need to be stopped
  • Let know the habit of smoking and alcohol to the surgeon
  • Take sincere efforts to quit smoking immediately
  • Notify the surgeon if you have developed cold, fever or sore throat few days before surgery
  • Postpone dental treatments if any and be sure to take antibiotics as per the surgeon’s advice
  • To get emotional and physical assistance during the post-operative rehabilitation, have arrangements with family and/or friends
  • Prepare your home in advance as per your needs after the surgery, at the time of recovery
  • Be careful not eat or drink anything a few hours before surgery

Tip for medical tourist:

  • The medical tourist can make prior arrangements for staying in the treatment destination for a relatively long period and wisely book flexible tickets for their return journey

Valve replacement surgery after care:

  • Generally the patient needs to stay at hospital for a week or more after the surgery. Immediately after the surgery patient is shifted in to the intensive care unit (ICU),where  Patient’s vital statistics will be monitored  constantly.
  • Appropriate medication will be administered to prevent any infection or blood clotting after the surgery
  • The drainage tube can be expected to be detached within 1-3 days after surgery
  • There will be a disturbing uneasiness in the place of the chest during any activities for the following two months
  • Within a few days after surgery, the cardiac rehabilitation program will be begun after the patient becomes totally stable

Special precautions following surgery:

  • Take care, to keep the incision area clean and dry
  • Patients requiring blood thinner may have to be precautious and may have to do frequent blood tests
  • Quit smoking altogether
  • Make walking a daily routine as per the instruction of the surgeon
  • Maintain a balanced weight with an apt schedule of diet and exercises
  • Never forget to take the prescribed medicines in the correct time
  • Be punctual in your follow-up visits  with your surgeon and physician
  • Actively participate in post cardiac rehabilitation program
  • Strictly adhere to the lifestyle changes to have an optimum result from the surgery

The health condition of the patient before surgery also plays significant role in the recovery. The recovery after the valve replacement surgery may take relatively a long time, particularly in elderly patients, however the patient can anticipate a full recovery within 2 months after the surgery.


Health Tips

Make a puree of 4 tomatoes. Soak some rice for 30 minutes and grind it coarsely. Add this to the pureed tomatoes. Apply this mixture all over the body and leave it on for about 15 minutes. Bathe with warm water; this is a good scrub recipe for oily skin.

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