Using this guide What's covered
Here you’ll find answers to many of your questions about heart valve replacement. Learn how it’s done, what it may cost, what your recovery may be like, and more.
To see how the surgery’s done, view our animation below. For personal insights, see our patient experience videos in which HCF members talk frankly about their preparation, surgery and recovery.
Why are heart valves replaced?
Your heart has four valves (aortic, mitral, tricuspid and pulmonary). They open and close to ensure that blood travels in the right direction – picking up oxygen from your lungs and delivering it to your organs.
Sometimes one or more of the valves may become stiff and narrowed (stenosis) or leaky (regurgitant) and needs to be replaced. This may be a result of inherited (congenital) heart defects, aging, past infection, heart failure, or coronary artery disease.
Usually, the valves that need replacing are the aortic and mitral valves, which are located on the left side of the heart. They work harder than the tricuspid and pulmonary valves, because they control blood flow from your heart to the rest of the body.
How is it done?
During the procedure, your surgeon removes your damaged valve and sews a new valve in its place. The two main types of replacement valves are:
- Tissue/biological valves. These can come from humans or animals.
- Mechanical valves. These are made of materials such as metal, carbon or synthetics.
CONSIDERING THE PROCEDURE
Alternatives to heart valve replacement
Other treatments you can talk to your doctor about.
Choices in heart valve replacement surgery
What type of surgery and what type of valve?
Results vs risks of the procedure
The benefits and potential complications of heart valve replacement.
Choosing a specialist
How to find a heart surgeon who specialises in your procedure.
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