Aortic Valve Replacement


A Deep Dive into Aortic Valve Replacement

A normal functioning aortic valve has three leaflets, usually referred to as cusps, and is positioned at the end of the left ventricle. This valve is the main pump that delivers oxygenated blood to the entire body. An aortic valve replacement is required if someone suffers from Aortic Valve Stenosis or Aortic Valve Insufficiency. These two issues can cause a significant number of problems and can be life threatening. Understanding the components that are involved in an aortic valve replacement is important, especially if you are considering one. When to Consider Aortic Valve Replacement As already mentioned, there are two reasons as to why someone would need an aortic valve replacement. When suffering from aortic stenosis, the valve is narrow, causing it to be harder for the blood to go through. Basically, the muscle in the heart begins to thicken, causing a hissing sound, which is oftentimes confused with a murmur. With aortic valve insufficiency, the valve tends to “leak” when it is closed. This make the heart work twice as hard to make the blood flow correctly and into the right direction. To repair this, doctors have created a minimally invasive technique that is much safer and easier on patients.   What to Consider Aortic Valve Replacement Since the breastbone is not being cut into, this replacement procedure is called transcatheter aortic valve replacement, which allows for healing to begin and end much faster. Your doctor will make a small, approximately two inch, incision between the third and fourth rib bone on the right side of the body. From this point, your doctor can securely place the new...

Heart Valve Replacement Survival Rate

Having invasive surgery for a heart valve replacement is sometimes necessary, but it doesn’t have to be. Open heart surgery is a major operation and requires a hospital stay of at least a week, with part of that in the intensive care unit in most cases. Depending on your age, general health, and how severely damaged or faulty your heart valves are, invasive surgery may not be necessary. Although studies have shown that the heart valve replacement surgery survival rate is very high, there are other less invasive treatments for valve repair or replacement, such as minimally invasive aortic valve replacement or minimally invasive mitral valve repair. Minimally Invasive Aortic Valve Replacement Aortic Stenosis (AS) is a heart disease affecting the aortic valve. This valve is responsible for pumping oxygenated blood to all parts of the body. With AS, the aortic valve is too narrow, causing a very high internal pressure due to the heart working extra hard to pump blood through it. This pressure triggers the cardiac muscle to thicken to increase its strength, and eventually tires out and results in a life-threatening condition. The majority of patients with AS, with or without symptoms present, need to have minimally invasive aortic valve replacement to replace the defective valve with a new mechanical or biological heart valve prosthesis. If there has been a diagnosis of severe AS, even if symptoms are not present, patients should be evaluated as soon as possible for surgical intervention. Clinical evidence shows that delaying surgery is dangerous. Severe symptomatic aortic valve stenosis is a lethal condition that requires effective aortic valve replacement. No other...

Straight Talk On Aortic Valve Stenosis

If a patient is diagnosed with moderate-to-severe aortic valve stenosis, no matter how elderly or frail, the patient must undergo replacement surgery to avoid death in a matter of months. Aortic valve stenosis is a deadly disease that requires immediate attention.  Severe symptomatic aortic valve stenosis is a lethal condition that needs effective mechanical relief in the form of aortic valve replacement. There is no other medical treatment for this disease. Some doctors avoid this surgery for elderly and frail patients, but this is the worst possible course of action. Without aortic valve surgery, three-quarters of these patients will die within three years of symptom onset (shown in graph 1). The following graph shows the life expectancy of patients who undergo replacement surgery (blue line) versus the survival rate of patients who do not have surgery (red line). As you can clearly see, surgery is the right course of action. The life expectancy of patients with aortic valve stenosis who undergo an aortic valve replacement is the same as any patient of the same age that has never be affected by aortic valve disease. Minimally Invasive Aortic Valve Replacement For Frail Patients A well-meaning relative will ask: “Isn’t Grandma too old and frail to withstand open heart surgery?” Dr. Ciuffo’s answer will always be: “No. Grandma is too old and frail to withstand severe aortic valve stenosis. Let me show the statistics on this condition!!!” The way Dr. Ciuffo performs a minimally invasive aortic valve replacement has dramatically changed the impact of this operation on the overall patient’s experience and on the speed of recovery. Most patients, even the elderly and frail, will be able to return to their...