Mechanical Heart Valve

By: Alere Staff

The human heart is made up of many parts, including 4 valves that help make sure blood is pumping through the heart. Properly working heart valves help the heart pump blood to the rest of the body. Sometimes, a heart valve may be damaged due to a disease, a narrowing, or calcium buildup and may need repair.

Repairing or Replacing the Heart Valve

If the heart valve cannot be repaired, your doctor may recommend repairing or replacing your heart valve(s). There are many factors that determine what procedure the heart doctor will choose. The factors can include your age, health, and how badly the heart valve is damaged.1 The heart doctors and surgeons will determine what replacement surgery is best for you. Rather than having open-heart surgery, most mechanical heart valve repair or replacement procedures today can be performed by a creating a smaller incision using a minimally invasive technique.2 If a replacement is required, the damaged valve will be removed and replaced with an artificial or mechanical valve.

Replacing Heart Valve with Mechanical Heart Valve

A mechanical heart valve is made of artificial materials, which are designed to last for a long time.3 Unlike the human heart valve, the mechanical heart valve may have a tendency for blood to stick to it because of the artificial materials. This in turn can cause a blood clot. In order to prevent a blood clot, an anticoagulant such as warfarin (or brand of warfarin such as Coumadin®) may be prescribed by your doctor.3 The anticoagulant will have to be taken as long as the mechanical heart valve is in place, which is for life, to ensure that blood clots do not form. The doctor will help to monitor your INR to make sure the medication is performing the right way.

  1. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. How Is Heart Valve Disease Treated? Updated November 16, 2011. Accessed August 9, 2013. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hvd/treatment.html.
  2. Otto CM, Bonow RO. Valvular heart disease. In: Bonow RO, Mann DL, Zipes DP, Libby P, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 66.
  3. Bernstein D. General principles of treatment of congenital heart disease. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 428.

 

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