As a heart valve disease patient, there’s a chance you may need heart valve surgery. One of the decisions you will have to make is regarding your replacement valve. Do you need a mechanical valve or a biological tissue valve? You will come to this decision with your doctor, based on a lot of factors. In this article, we will focus on some facts about mechanical valves.
A mechanical valve can last inside a person’s body for more than 20 years. It is made from pyrolytic carbon. With a mechanical valve, you will (most likely) only need valve surgery once, and never have to replace the valve. There are two common types of mechanical valves: tilting disc valves and bileaflet valves. Unfortunately, mechanical valves can cause blood clots, so a patient needs to be on blood thinners, like Coumadin, for the rest of his or her life to prevent clots from forming in the valve.
Mechanical valves are known to be extremely durable. Since patients with mechanical valves are less likely to need a repeat operation these types of valves are good for people under 60 years of age.
There are some disadvantages to consider when thinking about getting a mechanical valve. For example, some people may not want to be on blood thinners for the rest of their lives. When you’re on blood thinners, you will have to be monitored for life and you have a higher risk of bleeding. Dietary changes may also have to be made to maintain consistent levels of vitamin K in the body. Contact sports and other risky activities that may result in bleeding should be avoided. Sometimes, mechanical valves can be heard when they open and close, but most patients are not disturbed by the noise; however, this can be seen as a disadvantage by some patients.
If the patient is already on blood thinning medications (due to blood clots or atrial fibrillation), choosing a mechanical heart valve may make more sense. Patients with conditions such as hyperparathyroidism are better off with a mechanical valve.
Your heart valve surgeon, like Dr. Peter Mikhail, will discuss your valve choices with you by going through all the factors so you have a good understanding of all the options, advantages, and disadvantages. Dr. Mikhail wants to work with his patients to make an informed, educated decision.
If you’re looking for a cardiac surgeon to perform your heart valve surgery and discuss valve replacement options, book a consult with Dr. Peter Mikhail who is based in New Port Richey, Florida. Dr. Mikhail is one of the foremost authorities and specialists in mitral valve surgery; he also performs TAVR and mini-AVR. To book a consultation, click here or call his office at 727-312-4844.