When facing heart-valve replacement surgery, it’s important to understand the available options. There are pros and cons to every option and understanding them helps you be a more informed patient who is better able to participate in decisions regarding your own health care. Whether your doctor recommends organic or mechanical heart valve replacement, it’s important to follow all instructions for your follow-up care.
Biological Heart Valve
Biological heart valves are harvested from animal or human donors. The tissue is then neutralized in order to eliminate the chances of the body rejecting the new valve. Biological heart valves are prepared either with or without a mounting frame and implanted in the heart. The main advantage is that biological heart valves may not require the use of blood thinners following surgery. However, biological heart valves may not last as long as their mechanical counterparts.
Mechanical Heart Valve
Prosthetic heart valves are substitutes designed to fit an individual patient. They are made of steel alloy and other sterile materials. As with biological heart valves, there are no chances of rejection from the body’s immune system. The synthetic materials allow the valve to work within the body without triggering an immune response. Following mechanical heart valve surgery, it is usually necessary for the patient to take blood thinners for the rest of their lives. This is to prevent the formation of blood clots which could result in heart attack, stroke, or even death.
For some patients, the source of the heart valve may be a consideration. We take the concerns of our patients very seriously, whether they are based on medical, moral, or religious grounds. In some cases, a biological heart valve may be the best choice because other underlying conditions make the use of blood thinners problematic. For other patients, the longevity of a mechanical heart valve may make that the best choice. We will discuss your personal needs, concerns, history, and situation when you come in for your surgical consultation.