Heart ValveReplacement

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.

Cost indicator

Discover the typical out-of-pocket costs HCF members can expect to pay for heart valve replacement and learn how your choice of surgeon and hospital affect that cost.

See costs

Learn about heart valve replacement

This short animation shows how your surgeon can remove a faulty heart valve and replace it.

The basics

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 body.

Sometimes, one or more of the valves may become stiff and narrowed (known as stenosis) or leaky (known as regurgitation) and need to be replaced to allow the heart to continue functioning efficiently. This may be a result of a valve defect that you were born with (congenital), ageing, a past infection, heart failure or coronary artery disease. 

Usually, the valves that need replacing are the aortic and mitral valves. They work harder than the tricuspid and pulmonary valves because they control blood flow from your heart to the rest of the body.

How's it done?

During the procedure, your surgeon removes your damaged valve and sews a replacement 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.


Alternatives to heart valve replacement

Other treatments you can talk to your doctor about.
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Choices in heart valve replacement surgery

What type of surgery and what type of valve?
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Results vs risks of the procedure

The benefits and potential complications of heart valve replacement.
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Choosing a specialist

How to find a heart surgeon who specialises in your procedure.
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Questions for your specialist

What you should ask before going ahead with heart valve replacement.
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Preparing for your procedure

Pre-operative tests for heart valve replacement.
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Your anaesthetic options

About the anaesthetic and post-operative pain relief.
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Your surgery

Going to hospital

What to expect on the day of your surgery.
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Your procedure

What happens in the operating theatre.
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Recovery and aftercare

After surgery

Your hospital stay.
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Resuming activities and watching for problems.
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Living with a new heart valve

Lifestyle modifications for optimum health.
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Patient experiences

HCF members who've had heart valve replacement talk about their preparation, hospital stay and recovery.
View videos


People who've had open heart surgery talk about the impact it's had on their lives, and how they've coped with the physical and emotional challenges they've faced.

View videos

Give us feedback

Did you find this guide helpful? Let us know what you liked or what we can do to improve it. We'd love to hear from you.

To provide feedback, email us at wellbeing@hcf.com.au.

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Important information

Information is provided by HCF in good faith for the convenience of members. It is not an endorsement or recommendation of any form of treatment nor is it a substitute for medical advice, and you should rely on the advice of your treating doctors in relation to all matters concerning your health. Every effort has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, however HCF takes no responsibility for any injury, loss, damage or other consequences of the use of this information.