Aortic valve replacement is a surgical procedure to replace the aortic valve with either an artificial or biological valve. It is a life-saving procedure for patients with aortic valve disease, such as those diagnosed with aortic valve regurgitation (AR) and aortic stenosis.
Both conditions can interfere with blood flow and make the heart work harder to pump blood to the rest of the body. With aortic valve replacement surgery, heart function is improved and the heart valve is saved.
Aortic Valve Regurgitation
Aortic valve regurgitation (AVR) is a condition in which the aortic valve does not close properly. This causes blood to flow backward into the left ventricle, instead of forward into the aorta. AR can occur suddenly (acute AVR), or it can happen gradually over time (chronic AVR).
There are several possible causes of AVR:
- Congenital abnormalities. Some people are born with an abnormal aortic valve that doesn’t work properly from birth.
- Rheumatic fever – This is an inflammatory disease that damages the valves.
- Infection – Infections such as endocarditis can damage valves.
- Calcific degeneration – Over time, calcium deposits can build up on the valve leaflets and prevent them from closing properly.
Aortic stenosis is a condition in which the heart’s aortic valve narrows and doesn’t open fully. Aortic stenosis is usually caused by calcium buildup on the leaflets of the heart’s aortic valve. This narrowing of the opening limits blood flow from the left ventricle (the chamber that pumps blood out of the heart) to the body. As the obstruction becomes more severe, it can cause shortness of breath, chest pain, fatigue, and even heart failure.
If you have mild or moderate symptoms, you may be able to manage them with medications prescribed by your doctor. However, if you have severe symptoms or complications related to AVR, surgery may be recommended.
Recovery and Risks
Recovery from an aortic valve replacement can be lengthy. It can take up to six weeks to heal from the surgery, and months before you can get your normal energy levels back. Be patient with yourself during recovery and listen to your body – if something feels too difficult or causes pain, stop and rest until you feel better again. Everything that you need to do will be detailed in your surgeon’s post-operative instructions.
Aortic valve replacement surgery, like any surgery, carries risks. For this reason, make sure to choose a heart surgeon who is highly skilled and experienced in this specific surgery. Doing so will lessen the risk of complications for you and give you a higher chance of a good outcome. After all, an aortic valve replacement is to help return you to normal function and live a long and healthy life.
Aortic Valve Replacement Surgery in Boca Raton, FL
The highly skilled cardiologists at Advanced Heart and Vascular Institute are highly experienced in aortic valve replacement surgery and perform this surgery regularly. Our doctors strive to give our patients the best outcomes and will guide you through your recovery period.
When it comes to problems of the heart, we understand the implications and use our specialized knowledge and advanced techniques to fix the problem. To consult one of our cardiologists on aortic valve replacement surgery, call our office today at (561) 235-5621, or use our convenient online request form.