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Patient Education: Diseases Conditions Treatments & Procedures

Heart Valve Surgery

Overview

  • A damaged heart valve does not allow the blood to pump properly and can cause the blood to flow in the wrong direction
  • Valves act like one-way doors, letting blood in and out of the heart’s chambers every time it beats
  • Damage to heart valves can occur from: 
    • Birth defects
    • Infection
    • Scarlet fever
  • Heart valve surgery repairs or replaces damaged heart valves
  • When repair is not possible it is necessary to replace the valve with an artificial valve
  • Some valves are made of animal material and others are mechanical and have man-made parts. 
  • When you receive a tissue valve you are not normally required to take drugs that thin the blood (anticoagulants) after the first three months following valve surgery. Unfortunately, tissue valves normally do not last as long as mechanical valves and further surgery may be required.