Heart Valves and Heart Valve Surgery Explained
Your heart has four valves. The chief function of the valves is to regulate the flow of blood into and outside the heart, and in the correct direction. When the valves are not able to direct the flow in the correct direction you have a heart valve disease. Heart valve diseases can be corrected by doing a surgery on your heart by repairing or replacing the malfunctioning valves.
Valve replacement is generally done only if the valve is beyond repair, and the option is often left to the cardiologist who is the best person to decide. The advantage in repair is that your heart’s tissue remains and the chances of your contracting infection are fewer. The other advantage is you don’t have to take blood-thinning medication after a repair surgery.
There are three types of repair surgeries for heart’s valve malfunction (inability of the valve to close properly and prevent blood leak) – Annuloplasty, structural support repair and valve leaflet repair.
Annuloplasty is a surgical procedure in which the objective is to tighten the tissue forming a ring around the valve, and may involve the implanting of a ring around the valve so that the leaflet of the valve is able to close properly. In structural support repair, the surgeon will either replace or reduce the length of the chords that support the valves. By shortening the chord’s length the leaflets come closer and prevent blood from leaking. In valve leaflet repair, the surgeon will manipulate the leaflet directly by cutting and resizing them so that they can close properly. Valve leaflet repair is done if the leaflet is floppy or is prolapsed.
In circumstances where repair is not feasible, the only option available is to replace your heart’s valves with biological or mechanical valves. Mechanical valves are made from synthetic materials and generally last longer than biological valves, but the problem is blood clots can form and stick around them. To avoid this from happening, you will be required to take blood-thinning medication for the rest of your life. Biological valves are made from animal or human tissue (donated heart) or from your own tissue. When you have a biological valve replacement, you will in all probability don’t have to take blood thinning medications.
Of the two valve types, mechanical is considered to be more durable and is mostly used on younger patients. Biological valves are preferred in patients aged 70 years or more. However, you will have to go by your cardiologist’s opinion, because there are several other factors that need to be considered before arriving at a decision.
The benefits of undergoing a heart valve surgery are –
- Your life span will increase substantially
- You can expect improvement to your life quality
- Symptoms of heart ailment will be reduced
Your heart is a very valuable organ and therefore deserves your most attention. It is always advisable to consult your doctor at the earliest because time is an important factor in treating heart diseases.
To learn more about heart valve surgery, call us or fill in the form, and we will get back to you at the earliest. You may also schedule a meeting with our cardiologist anytime convenient to you.