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Recovery From Heart Valve Surgery

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How Long Does It Take To Recover

Factors Affecting Recovery From Heart Valve Surgery

Open heart surgery requires 57 days of hospital stay, while home care continues for 710 days afterward. Minimally invasive procedures generally require less time in the hospital and have quicker recovery periods. However, recovery after a sternotomy, a surgical incision through the sternum, can take several weeks or months.

A range of factors, such as age and other health conditions, can influence healing. A persons doctor will provide guidance on recovery time.

Recovery After Mitral Valve Repair

Most mitral valve surgeries repair rather than replace the valve by making it close more tightly so you do not have mitral regurgitation, when blood leaks from one chamber to another. In some people, the valve has become stiff or narrow, and surgeons can widen it so it works more efficiently.

Generally, a mitral valve repair requires open heart surgery, which is an extensive procedure. Some people may be candidates for a less invasive procedure, using smaller incisions, which generally has a quicker recovery.

In most people, recovery ranges from 4 to 8 weeks. After surgery, youll be closely monitored for a few days in the hospitals intensive care unit . You can receive pain medication to alleviate discomfort from the incision and other pains you may have in your chest or upper body because of the operation. Youll be asked to cough to clear your lungs, which may also be uncomfortable. These symptoms will improve in the weeks after the operation.

When you are ready to go home, you will be given instructions on what to do and what not to do. Refrain from lifting heavy objects or overexerting your upper body, and follow your doctors advice on the amount of exercise you can do to start to rebuild your strength. You may notice that you tire easily, but after several weeks, you should start to feel better. If you had fatigue or shortness of breath before your operation, they should diminish.

How Is An Aortic Valve Replacement Carried Out

An aortic valve replacement is carried out under general anaesthetic.

This means you’ll be asleep during the operation and won’t feel any pain while it’s carried out.

During the procedure:

  • a large cut about 25cm long is made in your chest to access your heart although sometimes a smaller cut may be made
  • your heart is stopped and a heart-lung machine is used to take over the job of your heart during the operation
  • the damaged or faulty valve is removed and replaced with the new one
  • your heart is restarted and the opening in your chest is closed

The operation usually takes a few hours.

You’ll have a discussion with your doctor or surgeon before the procedure to decide whether a synthetic or animal tissue replacement valve is most suitable for you.

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What To Expect At Home

It will take 4 to 6 weeks or more to heal completely after surgery. During this time, it is normal to:

  • Have some pain in your chest around your incision.
  • Have a poor appetite for 2 to 4 weeks.
  • Have mood swings and feel depressed.
  • Feel itchy, numb, or tingly around your incisions. This may last 6 months or more.
  • Be constipated from pain medicines.
  • Have mild trouble with short-term memory or feel confused.
  • Feel tired or have little energy.
  • Have trouble sleeping. You should be sleeping normally within a few months.
  • Have some shortness of breath.
  • Have weakness in your arms for the first month.

How Long Will My Valve Last

Patients who suffer from multiple heart problems to be offered ...

The amount of time your valve repair or replacement lasts depends on several things:

  • Whether you have heart valve repair or replacement.
  • The type of valve you have placed .

Mechanical valves rarely wear out, but they may need replacement if a blood clot, infection or tissue growth keeps them from working right. Biological valves may need to be replaced, especially if youre younger.

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Recovery After Mitral Valve Replacement

Some people need a valve replacement rather than repair. Even if you require a replacement valve, your heart function should be much improved after you recover from surgery, unless other health factors are involved. Recovery from valve replacement is similar to that of valve repair: several days in the ICU, followed by a gradual increase in activity as directed by your doctor when you return home. You may receive a valve made from biological tissue or a mechanical valve. A tissue valve can last as long as 15 years, and a mechanical valve as long as 25 years. Either way, you should be able to resume most of your normal activities after about 6 to 8 weeks.

If you have a mechanical valve, you will need to take blood thinners on an ongoing basis to avoid developing blood clots in your heart. You may hear a clicking sound, which is normal. Its important that you follow your doctors guidance on monitoring your heart function following the procedure.

If you had symptoms before your mitral valve surgery, such as fatigue or shortness of breath, you may feel better very quickly after the operation. Even if it takes a little while to feel better, mitral valve surgery is a common procedure with a high success rate and, in many cases, can get you back to your regular routine.

Why Might I Need Heart Valve Repair Or Replacement Surgery

Valve repair or replacement surgery is done to correct the problems causedby one or more diseased heart valves.

If your heart valve becomes damaged or diseased, you may have thefollowing symptoms:

  • The repaired or replaced valve doesn’t work correctly

There may be other risks depending on your specific medical condition. Besure to discuss any concerns with your healthcare provider before theprocedure.

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What Kind Of Surgery Is Heart Valve Replacement

Heart valve replacement surgery can be performed via any of the two approaches: 1 Open-heart surgery: Traditional method of heart surgery in which a large incision is made in the chest the heart is 2 Minimally invasive heart surgery: These are the newer techniques in which the doctors make smaller incisions over the More

When do you need to have valve replacement surgery?

Valve replacement surgery may be an option if the valves of your heart are too fragile, scarred, or otherwise damaged to repair.

Other Types Of Heart Valve Procedure

Jens Story: Recovering From Heart Valve Surgery

Youll usually have open-heart valve surgery, but this may depend on your overall health. Your surgeon will discuss the available options with you.

If you cant have or dont need open-heart valve surgery, you may have one of these two types of percutaneous heart valve therapy.

  • Transcatheter aortic valve implantation . Your surgeon will pass a tube through a blood vessel in your groin or neck to replace or repair your heart valve. They may offer this procedure if youre not well enough to have open-heart valve surgery.
  • Edge-to-edge repair. A device is clipped onto a failing mitral valve in your heart to make it work better. Your surgeon can do this without cutting into your breastbone.

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What Happens Before Heart Valve Replacement

Your healthcare provider may take a chest X-ray and do an electrocardiogram a day before your operation.

Avoid eating or drinking anything during the night before or the day of your surgery.

Follow your providers instructions about which medications to take or stop taking before your operation.

Take comfortable clothes with you to the hospital, along with shoes you can slip into instead of tie. Your relative or friend who drove you to your appointment can hold your belongings for you during surgery.

Your provider will prepare your incision site by shaving and cleaning it.

Heart Valve Surgery Recovery & Healing

One of the big questions I had specific to heart valve surgery was, How long will it take to recover from heart valve surgery?

Patients ask this question for several different reasons. Some patients want to know how long they will need to be away from their work. Some patients want to know how long they will need medical care when they return from the hospital. Other patients want to know how long they might be in physical discomfort as a result of the surgery.

The first time I searched the Internet, looking for answers to this question, I found several resources which stated that the average recovery time from heart valve surgery was eight to twelve weeks.That seemed like a pretty significant amount of time. So, I decided to double-check with my surgeon. When I asked Dr. Vaughn Starnes, he said, Adam, youre a young guy. I think you are going to ‘snap back’ in no time from your aortic valve replacement.While that response made me feel good, Dr. Starnes did not fully answer the question. So, I did some more digging and interviewed former patients to better understand my future recovery. Interestingly enough, I was very confused by the variance in recovery times. Some patients were back at work in five weeks. Other patients were out of work for several months.

Everyone recovers from heart valve surgery at different rates. There is no pre-defined recovery time.

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What Happens During Heart Valve Repair Or Replacement Surgery

Heart valve repair or replacement surgery requires a stay in a hospital.Procedures may vary depending on your condition and your healthcareproviders practice.

Generally, open-heart valve repair or replacement follows this process:

  • You will be asked to remove any jewelry or other objects that may interfere with the procedure.

  • You will change into a hospital gown and empty your bladder.

  • The surgical team will position you on the operating table, lying on your back.

  • A healthcare professional will start an intravenous line in your arm or hand for injection of medicine and to give IV fluids. More catheters will be put in blood vessels your neck and wrist to monitor the status of your heart and blood pressure, and to take blood samples.

  • The anesthesiologist will continuously monitor your heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, and blood oxygen level during the surgery.

  • Your doctor will put a breathing tube through your mouth into your lungs and connect you to a ventilator, a machine that will breathe for you during the surgery.

  • Your doctor will place a transesophageal echocardiogram probe into your esophagus so he or she can monitor the function of the valves.

  • A soft, flexible tube will be put into your bladder to drain urine.

  • A tube will be put through your mouth or nose into your stomach to drain stomach fluids.

  • Someone on the surgical team will clean the skin over your chest with an antiseptic solution. If there is a lot of hair at the surgical site, it may be shaved off.

  • Exercising After Heart Valve Surgery

    Heart Valve Replacement Surgery

    Your physiotherapist or nurse will usually help you to start moving within a couple of days after your surgery. This will help your recovery. After a few days, you can start to increase how much exercise you do. Gentle walking is the best way to begin. Walking after surgery is recommended at least twice a day for 10 to 15 minutes to start with. You can expand this to 30 minutes over the first four to six weeks.

    Dont do any strenuous or vigorous activity straight away because it may put a strain on your heart. If your surgeon cut through your breastbone during your operation, dont do any heavy lifting for around 12 weeks after surgery. This will give your bone time to heal. But ask your surgeon for guidance as this may vary from person to person.

    Stop exercising straightaway if you feel:

    • any pain or tightness in your chest
    • get constipated
    • find it hard to sleep at night
    • notice a ticking noise in your chest if youve had a mechanical valve replacement
    • have a small lump at the top of your wound this may feel numb and itchy but will go down and ease as it slowly heals

    If youre worried about these or any other symptoms, contact your GP.

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    Minimally Invasive Heart Valve Surgery

    Valve disease treatment has improved dramatically over the past 15 years. Today, UT Southwestern is one of a handful of centers in the US where a surgical replacement or repair of a heart valve is possible without cracking the chest.

    Using a mini-thoracotomy approach, Dr. Doolabh is able to repair or replace a valve through a small 2-inch incision between the ribs without cutting through the breastbone . As a result, recovery time is reduced to 10 days versus six weeks for traditional open surgery. Dr. Doolabh has performed more of these surgeries than any other surgeon in Texas and in a new -state-of-the-art hospital, UT Southwestern continues to lead the field in cardiology and heart surgery as the 14th-ranked program nationally, according to U.S. News & World Report.

    Through minimally invasive surgery, we need to make only a 2-inch incision to repair or replace a valve, and the recovery time is reduced to 10 days versus six weeks for traditional open surgery. Weve performed more of these procedures than others in North Texas, and UT Southwestern is leading the advancement of additional new treatments.

    What Should I Expect Immediately After Heart Valve Replacement

    Most patients can expect to spend time in the intensive care unit after the procedure so that we can carefully monitor how your new valve is functioning and how your body is responding. Youll likely sleep through your ICU visit though.

    You can expect to stay in the hospital for two to five days overall. During that time, well get you up and moving so you can begin to rebuild your strength. This may start with short trips to the bathroom and proceed to leisurely strolls in the hallway with a nurse or physical therapist at your side.

    Ill also stop by to see how youre feeling, leave orders for your care with the hospital staff, and evaluate your progress.

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    About Heart Valve Surgery

    You may need heart valve surgery if theres a problem with one or more of your heart valves. Heart valves control the blood flow in to and out of your heart. Damaged or faulty valves can affect how well your heart pumps blood around your body.

    Your valves may:

    • be narrow or tight
    • not close properly and leak

    If theres a problem with your heart valves, you may not have any symptoms at first. Youll usually only have surgery if your heart valves are badly damaged or causing symptoms. Heart valve surgery can ease your symptoms and improve your quality of life.

    In open-heart valve surgery, the surgeon opens your chest using keyhole surgery. They make a small cut in your breastbone or from the right side of your chest to reach your heart. If you need more complicated surgery, your surgeon may cut your whole breastbone. Your surgeon may recommend another procedure instead. This will depend on many things, including how well you are.

    Here we talk about what happens in open-heart surgery.

    When Is A Heart Valve Replacement Necessary

    Day 4 recovery from open heart surgery for aortic valve repl

    A heart valve replacement is necessary when valve repair surgery isnt a treatment option. Valve replacement surgery is most often used to treat people with aortic valve disease, particularly aortic stenosis .

    Other conditions that may require a heart valve replacement include:

    • Mitral, pulmonary or tricuspid valve stenosis .

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    How Long To Feel Like You Again After Heart Valve Surgery Asks Patricia

    By Adam Pick on July 25, 2010

    Patricia just sent me an interesting question about heart valve surgery recovery.

    She writes, Adam I had mitral valve repair via the Da Vinci robot on December 15th, 2009. For the 1st time in my life, I have a fully functioning heart with NO murmur! I have been recuperating for the last 6 months and I am getting progressively better, a little at a time. My question to you is this: How long did it take for you to fully feel like YOU again? It has been 6 months, and I still dont feel 100% yet. Thanks, Patricia.

    In responding to these types of questions, I gently remind patients that healing is a personal process. Regardless of whether you had a median sternotomy or a minimally invasive operation , please remember that our bodies are unique and recover at different rates.

    I offer this thought for two reasons First, as I personally discovered, my aortic valve replacement recovery was much longer than the initial estimate of 6-8 weeks provided by certain members of my medical team. Second, my patient research continues to show that perceived recovery times are all over the map. Some patients tell me they are 100% in six weeks. Other patients tell me it took 18 months until they felt their recovery was complete. For example, consider the chart below. It shows the time in which a select group of patients returned to work varied between 3 and 15+ weeks.

    Can A Heart Valve Repair Itself

    No, a heart valve cant repair itself. Valve disease doesnt go away. It gets worse with time. As the disease gets worse, youll have more symptoms and your overall health will suffer. These changes often happen slowly, but they can also occur very quickly.

    Depending on the type and extent of valve disease you have, you may be able to take medication for the short term. Surgery is the only effective long-term solution, and your healthcare provider will help determine when its time to pursue that option.

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