There are advantages and disadvantages with either choice. Your doctor can provide more details. A mechanical valve lasts longer than a tissue valve, but you'll have to be on blood-thinning medication for the rest of your life to reduce the risk of blood clots. The main advantage of a tissue valve is that it does not typically require life-long blood-thinning medication.
You and your doctor together will decide which option is best for you.
Mechanical valves in some patients have lasted as long as 25 years without problems.1
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Results vary from person to person. Many people experience relief from symptoms right away. For others, it may take longer to notice a change. Your doctor will help you evaluate the progress of your condition after surgery.
Recovery time depends on many different things, including your overall physical condition before surgery. Typically, recovery takes at least eight weeks and up to 12 weeks. Some patients recover faster, others take longer. During this time, you'll gradually regain your energy and should be able to return to your normal routine.
Of course, how quickly you recover depends on the kind of surgery you had, your overall strength, and how well your incision heals. A good cardiac rehabilitation program helps you regain your energy and overall good health.
With a mechanical valve, your doctor will prescribe blood-thinning (anticoagulant) medication you'll take for the rest of your life. This medication helps prevent the formation of blood clots, which are a serious health risk. You may need other medications, depending on your overall health and the particular nature of your valve disease.
Because anticoagulation medication helps prevent clots by delaying the blood coagulation process, any cuts or scrapes you get will bleed a little longer than normal. It's important that you follow your doctor's specific instructions and take your medication exactly as instructed.
You may need to take antibiotics before you have dental work or other surgery. Even a simple procedure like cleaning your teeth can dislodge bacteria that could find their way to your heart valve and cause an infection. Be sure to tell your dentist or doctor you have a mechanical heart valve.
Your condition will determine if you have to take blood-thinning (anticoagulant) medication. With tissue valves, the need for life-long blood-thinning medication is usually minimal. Your doctor might put you on blood thinning medication while you're healing. After that, he or she will look at your risk factors to see if you need to continue on the medication. You may need other medications, depending on your overall health and the particular nature of your valve disease.
The fact that tissue valves may not require life-long blood-thinning medication makes them ideal for women in their childbearing years, elderly patients, and patients who can't tolerate anticoagulation medication.
You may need to take antibiotics before you have dental work or other medical procedures done, just as you would if you received a mechanical valve. Even a simple teeth cleaning can introduce bacteria into your bloodstream, which can find their way to your heart valve and cause an infection. Be sure to tell your dentist or doctor you have a tissue heart valve.
Complications, sometimes leading to repeated surgery or even death, may be associated with heart valve replacement. Discuss your personal situation with your doctor to ensure you understand the risks, benefits, and possible complications associated with heart valve replacement surgery.
Mosaic Bioprosthesis: Ten year Clinical Update. ©Medtronic, Inc. 2007.
David TE, Ivanov J, Armstrong S, Feindel CM, Cohen G. Late results of heart valve replacement with the Hancock II bioprosthesis. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2001; 121:268-278.