Open heart surgery is a procedure that is helpful for individuals suffering from heart valve diseases. The operation helps the doctor to replace the problematic valve with that of a mechanical valve or a biological valve. The doctor does not directly opt for the surgery upon detecting the presence of a heart valve disease.


Why an Open Heart Surgery?

Open heart surgery is the only method that helps the surgeon to replace the damaged heart valve. Although the non-invasive operation is available, it is expensive and is suitable for patients that have high risks involved in open heart surgery. Therefore, the doctors opt for the open heart surgery when there is a need of replacing a heart valve.


Functionality of Heart Valve

The heart has four valves that function as a one-way direction control valve. Each valve has flaps that open and close for every heartbeat. The flaps ensure that there is no backward flow after pumping blood by the heart. It will thus, allow the required flow of blood necessary to different parts of the body. When there is dysfunction in any of the heart valves, the body receives a reduced flow of blood, and the heart functions harder to make up for the back flow.


Diagnosing a problematic valve is possible through physical examination. The doctor can find the change in the heartbeat through the murmur sounds and retention of fluid in the lungs. Apart from this, echocardiogram, angiogram, MRI scan, x-ray, and CT scan also provide details related to the damaged heart valve. By collecting all the information, the doctor will be in a position to take judgment in opting for the surgery.


Risks Involved

The risks involved in open heart surgery are high because of the complex nature of the approach. Because of this, the surgeon considers the age of the patient, the health factor, the condition of the heart valve disease, medical history, and gender. Therefore, not everyone receives an immediate surgery upon detecting the presence of a heart valve problem.

Initially, the doctor monitors the progression by collecting details with the help of the examination results. Depending on the analysis, the doctor chooses an appropriate time to perform the open heart surgery and replace the damaged heart valve. The post-operation risks involved change according to the severity, overall health condition of the patient, and age. Therefore, the patient stays in the hospital for about a week during which the doctor monitors the recovery.

How Long Do You Have To Stay In The Hospital After Open Heart Surgery?

How Long Do You Have To Stay In The Hospital After Open Heart Surgery?

You will have to stay for a week in the hospital after open heart surgery. Depending on the surgery and whether the surgeon used a mechanical valve or a biological valve, the recovery period varies. In case of a mechanical valve, which has a lifespan functionality, the recovery can be comfortable with a shorter stay at the hospital. However, the individual requires the use of warfarin, the blood-thinning medicine for the rest of the life. The dosage level changes from time to time depending on the response by the patient. In case of the biological valve, the patient does not require the use of the warfarin. However, the patient needs the replacement of the valve after 15 years.

A change in lifestyle along with eating habits as prescribed by the doctor will prevent the resurgence of the problem.

Selection of the Valve

Selecting between a mechanical valve and the biological valve depends on the severity of the valve disease, the age of the patient, the risks involved in the operation, and post-operation recovery. Most often, surgeons opt for a mechanical valve for younger patients and a biological valve for older adults, given the lifespan of the valves respectively.

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Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:


Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: May 1, 2019

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer


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