How Do You Replace A Leaky Heart Valve?

These days, the problem of leaky heart valve has become very common. Leaky heart valves can give rise to a number of health problems both major as well as minor. The seriousness of the problem solely depends on the fact that how deep the problem interferes with the normal flow of blood in the body. Leaky heart valve can either be repaired or replaced with an artificial valve.

How Do You Replace A Leaky Heart Valve?

Leaky Heart Valve

Human heart comprise of four different valves, they are mitral valve, tricuspid valve, aortic valve and pulmonic valve. All the four valves comprises of flaps, these flaps open in regular interval and facilitates flow of blood in the right direction. The flaps also close in regular intervals for preventing backward flow of blood in the heart. Except mitral valve, all other valves have three flaps only mitral valve has two flaps. All the four valves are prone to become leaky. When heart squeezes to releases blood in the body then some blood leaks out and move in the backward direction. This condition is also known as valve regurgitation.

How Leaky Heart Valve Is Diagnosed?

Leaky heart valves can be diagnosed in two ways:

  • By the abnormal sound made by the heart, this sound can be heard with the help of stethoscope.
  • Leaky heart valve can also be diagnosed by ultrasound result.
  • Symptoms of the problem also act a prominent factor to diagnose the problem.


As such it is very rare that leaky heart display any symptom, in fact; the healthiest people also suffer from one or two leaky heart valves. It is only if the problem is very severe that badly hinders the upward flow of blood, the body show some significant symptoms:

One interesting fact about leaky heart valve in some patients, even when the problem is very severe still no symptom is being displayed by the patient.

How Do You Replace A Leaky Heart Valve?

There are two ways to treat leaky heart valves, first is repairing of affected valve and second is valve replacement. If the problem is in a very initial stage then repair approach is undertaken by the doctor. However, if the problem goes beyond the limit where the valves cannot be repaired, then valve replacement is the only approach available to doctors.

In this process, surgeons remove the affected leaky heart valve and replace the same with a healthy artificial valve made of animal tissues like pig or cow. If doctors use biological valves then it is recommended to replace the valve after a defined time frame because they are prone to degenerate over a period of time. Also, people who are operated and placed with a mechanical valve in their body are advised to take blood thinning medication throughout their life. This is because if blood thinning medicine is not taken then it can lead to formation of clots.

Before opting for any of the two approaches, doctors first discuss about the pros and cons of both the treatment approaches with the patient and their family.

Survival with Leaky Heart Valve

Individuals suffering from leaky heart valve are benefited by performing regular exercise, like mild walking and stretching. Before indulging in any form of physical activity either mild or regressive, it is advised that one should consult a doctor. In addition, people suffering from leaky heart valve should avoid smoking and should also try their best to keep a check on the weight to avoid any severe consequences later. Further, taking regular follow up from the doctor helps in maintaining good health.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 31, 2019

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