The heart is a complex organ that pumps blood and drives many functions in the body. When something is wrong with the heart, it needs to be fixed. Heart valve disease is one such issue that needs the immediate attention of your cardiologist. Heart valves basically act like doors and ensure that the blood flows in the right direction.
Problems with your heart valve can lead to issues like chest pain and dizziness.
To solve your heart valve disease, the cardiac surgeon may repair or replace your diseased heart valve.
Read on below to find out how heart valve repair or replacement differs and which is a better option.
Why may I need heart valve surgery?
You may need heart valve surgery if you have been diagnosed with heart valve disease. However, your cardiologist may suggest medications and lifestyle changes if your disease is too mild or if you don’t have any symptoms.
There are two types of heart valves conditions that may require heart valve surgery:
- Stenosis: when your heart valves narrow
- Regurgitation: When there’s a leak in your heart valve that leads to the blood flowing backward
How are heart valve repair and heart valve replacement different?
A heart valve repair is usually performed for congenital valve diseases(you have these conditions when you are born). This treatment has a high success rate in treating mitral valves or tricuspid valve diseases. A heart valve repair may involve surgery to repair valve leaks, reattach the valve flaps, and remove surplus tissue to allow leaflets or cusps to close tightly.
There are also options to perform non-surgical valve repair. For instance, balloon valvuloplasty is a type of valve repair surgery that is performed without creating a big incision in the chest.
In this, a long, thin tube called a catheter with a balloon at its tip will be inserted by the cardiac surgeon into an artery in your arm directly to the diseased valve. When this balloon is inflated, the heart valve’s opening enlarges. After deflating the balloon, the surgeon will take out the catheter and the balloon.
In a heart valve replacement, the faulty heart valve may be replaced with a mechanical or a biological valve. When your valve is too damaged or fragile to be repaired, a heart valve replacement would be suggested. A heart valve replacement is a major open-heart operation and would require a hospital stay of more than 5 days. However, now you have the option to go for minimally invasive methods like TAVR which allows the diseased valve to be replaced by making a small incision. This leads to less pain and faster recovery after the procedure.
Making a choice between a heart valve repair and a heart valve replacement
The cardiac surgeon has to consider various factors while deciding which is the best option for you. Certain factors can influence this decision. These usually include:
- Your age
- Your overall health
- The severity of your heart valve disease
Generally, it is considered best to repair the heart valve to preserve the patient’s own tissue. Repairing also reduces the risk of infection and improves heart function. However, when the tissue is damaged significantly, then the heart valve has to be replaced. The replacement valve can be biological or mechanical. Age is a significant factor in deciding whether a mechanical or biological heart valve is better for replacement.
The choice between a heart valve replacement or repair would also depend on the type of diseased valve.
For instance, it would be more beneficial for you to go for a valve repair if your mitral valve is leaking. This is because repairing the valve will improve your survival rates and also reduce the risk of infection and bleeding.
Every person’s case is different. Based on your case history and overall health, the cardiac surgeon will suggest a heart valve repair or replacement to you. It is important that you are comfortable with the treatment. If you still feel unsure, you can get a second opinion from an expert cardiac surgeon or cardiologist to determine the right solution for your heart valve disease.
Avail Heart Valve Replacement Surgery Across the World
Heart valves play an important role. Timely and correct treatment of heart valve disease is important to save heart function. To give the best care to your heart, you should get in touch with an expert cardiologist who can provide you with the best options for your heart valve disease, whether it be a heart valve repair or replacement.