FAQ AORTIC AND MITRAL VALVE REPLACEMENT


What are the differences between mechanical valves and tissue valves?

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.

How long will my heart valve last?

Mechanical valves in some patients have lasted as long as 25 years without problems.1

Tissue valves in some patients have lasted as long as 15 years without problems.2 

Will my new valve need special care?

Let your other doctors and your dentist know you've had heart valve surgery. Ask whether you should take antibiotics before surgical or dental procedures to help prevent valve infections.

Will a mechanical heart valve set off airport security?

Your Medtronic heart valve products should not activate airport security alarms, depending on the sensitivity of the security system settings.

Learn more on the transportation safety administration website.

Can I have an X-Ray after heart valve replacement?

All replacement heart valves are completely safe with x-ray exams.

Is it safe to have a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan after heart valve replacement?

Our heart valves have been tested and found to be compatible during an MRI scan under specific conditions. Contact Medtronic LifeLine CardioVascular Technical Support for more detailed information.

How soon after surgery can I expect to see results?

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.

How soon after surgery can I resume normal activity?

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.

If I have a mechanical heart valve implanted, will I need to take medications after my surgery?

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.

If I have a tissue heart valve implanted, will I need to take any medications after my surgery?

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.

What are the complications with heart valve replacement surgery?

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.

What do I need to do to maintain a healthy lifestyle with my replacement heart valve?

  • Take all your medications as prescribed.
  • Tell your doctor if you have dramatic, unexplained weight gain, fever, pain, or other symptoms.
  • Eat a low-salt diet if your doctor prescribes one for you.
  • Follow your doctor's suggestions about incorporating exercise and other activities into your life.
  • Tell your doctor if you make any lifestyle changes.

Do heart valves make any noise?

All mechanical valves make a little noise. When a mechanical heart valve opens and closes, you may hear two distinct clicking sounds. This is normal.


1

Mosaic Bioprosthesis: Ten year Clinical Update. ©Medtronic, Inc. 2007.

2

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.