A heart valve replacement is necessary for those who are suffering from valve leakage problems or diseases. It is common for leakage to happen even among healthy individuals. However, replacement is necessary for those who display moderate to severe symptoms.
The functionality of the heart valve is critical, as it helps in allowing the blood to pass to the arteries. Assessing the situation is possible by noting down the symptoms reflected by a leaky heart valve. It is difficult to state its presence in its initial stage because it does not show any signs.
How Long Do Heart Valve Replacements Last?
Lasting of a heart valve replacement depends on the selection made by the surgeon. The specialist selects between a mechanical valve or a biological valve. Both the valves have the similar functionality. However, they differ in the lifespan and arrive with specific complications. The following paragraphs will provide information related to a mechanical valve and biological valve.
Mechanical Valve: A mechanical valve is durable unlike its counterpart, the biological heart valve. Mechanical heart valves are available in different materials and have different price tags. Because of the use of the plastic material in building the mechanical valve, the patient suffers from blood clots. Therefore, the surgeon suggests the use of blood-thinning medicine, such as warfarin, for the rest of the life. The use of the dose changes from one person to another. The use of new material, made out of pure carbon, helps in reduction of using blood thinning medicine.
Biological Valve: Biological heart valve has a lifespan between 8 and 15 years. A biological valve consists of heart valve acquired from a pig or cow and treated in the laboratory to meet the human being specifications. It also includes a cleansing procedure that helps in prevention of occurrence of infections after the replacement. Depending on the overall wellness of the patient, the lifespan can reach to a maximum of 15 years. After this, the patient requires additional replacement. Because of this nature, surgeons opt for a biological valve for elderly patients.
Diagnosing a leaky heart valve in its early stage is difficult. In many of the situations, one may find the symptoms only when the situation escalates to severity. Attending to a leaky heart valve will prevent heart failure and death. Diagnosing the presence is possible with the help of MRI scan, CT scan, x-ray, and echocardiogram.
As it is difficult to learn about the presence of a leaky heart valve in its initial stage, the following symptoms will be helpful in requesting a diagnosis to learn about the situation:
- Chest pain
Treating a leaky heart valve or replacing the heart valve requires the surgeon to understand the situation by considering the symptoms along with the results obtained from the diagnostic procedures. The severity and the location of the leaky heart valve propel the surgeon to consider between a mechanical valve or a biological valve. In addition to it, they also consider post-operation risks involved to proceed with the surgery.
In any case, replacing a heart valve has its side effects in the patient requires frequent follow-up along with the use of medicines to lead a healthy life. In case of replacing the heart valve with a mechanical valve, the patient needs the use of blood-thinning medication for the rest of the life. The doctor additionally prescribes rehabilitation activities and a few pointers that the patient should not participate, as it can cause stress on the heart and pose a threat for leakage.
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