Heart Valve Surgery

The valves in your heart are made of thin but extremely strong flaps of tissue that open and close as your heart pumps.  As we age, heart valves weaken and harden.  A heart valve may have a defect at birth that will get worse later in life and cause problems.  Rheumatic fever or infections can also leave scars or destroy valves.  Whatever the cause, blood does not flow through the heart normally making the heart work harder and can lead to heart failure.

Heart valve operations are considered for patients with any of these aforementioned conditions. More recently, this surgery has become more common.  Two surgical options are repair, when the surgeon can restore the valve to normal function; or replacement, which is necessary if the heart valves are seriously damaged and cannot be repaired.  If the valve is replaced, there are two kinds of valves used: tissue or mechanical.  A WMHS physician will advise you on which type of valve is best for you.

Heart valve surgery is a major surgical procedure and like any surgery does carry some risks and should be discussed with your doctor.  Recovery time for heart valve surgery will be about the same as someone who has had heart bypass surgery.

After surgery, an Anesthesiologist and Surgeon will take you to the Cardiovascular Unit where you will remain until you are ready to be discharged and go home. The surgeon will speak to your family after the surgery is complete and he will inform them of your status and answer any questions they may have.