The heart valves are affected by a number of diseases which many a time lead to dysfunction of the valves and require replacement with a prosthetic (artificial) heart valve. The prosthetic heart valves are classified into mechanical (metallic) valves and bioprosthetic (tissue) valves. The mechanical valve is made up of metal alloys. Therefore, it needs lifelong blood thinners to avoid clot formation on the valve surface which could lead to malfunction of the valve. The major disadvantage of blood thinners is that it increases the chances of bleeding. Profuse bleeding after sustaining an injury or spontaneous bleeding in the brain and other vital organs can be life-threatening. The current generation mechanical valves are free from any structural deterioration and are unlikely to break in an individual’s lifetime. The bioprosthetic valve, on the other hand, does not require any blood thinners. It is made of animal tissue and chances of clot formation over a bioprosthetic valve is extremely low. However, the bioprosthetic valves are prone to structural deterioration. Depending upon the different techniques of manufacturing, these valves can last for 5 -20 years.
For an individual, choosing a heart valve primarily depends upon a combination of three factors:
However, in an age where information is readily available to all patients, it is strongly suggested that patients read about the pros and cons of the available heart valves. They can then discuss their concerns with the treating Cardiac Surgeons before making a final decision.
A frantic mother brings an 18-month-old with complaints of her child getting up frequently in…