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Hospital  >  Care Programs  >  Schulich Heart Program  >  Patients and visitors  >  Recovering from surgery  >  Valve surgery
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Valve surgery

Although your recovery process will be almost the same as patients having bypass surgery, there are a few differences.

  • You will not have a leg incision (unless a bypass was also necessary)
  • Fluid or salt restrictions may be recommended.

Dental work for valve patients

It is recommended that you visit your dentist before surgery if possible.

It is important to protect your new heart valve from bacteria which can enter the blood during dental work or major or minor surgery. Antibiotics are prescribed before and after these procedures by your doctor to decrease the risk of contracting an infection (bacterial endocarditis), which attacks the tissue surrounding the new valve.

Although the risk of developing bacterial endocarditis is small, it is important to take these precautions. Be sure to tell any doctor, dentist or health care professional that you have had a valve replacement before any dental or surgical procedure.

Patients with mechanical or tissue valves

To prevent the formation of blood clots around your mechanical valve, you may be started on the anticoagulation (blood thinner) medication warfarin (Coumadin®). Depending on the type of valve, you may be on this medication for only a few months or for the rest of your life. Regular blood tests will be required to monitor the proper level of warfarin in the blood, both in hospital and by your family doctor upon discharge. Although blood tests will be necessary as long as you are on warfarin, the frequency will decrease over time.

When taking warfarin remember to watch for:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Excessive bruising
  • Bowel movements that are bloody, black or tarry
  • Bloody urine
If you observe any of the above symptoms, contact your physician immediately!

Specific guidelines on the proper and safe use of warfarin will be provided by your pharmacist before you are discharged from the hospital.