Heart Valve Surgery

The heart valves keep blood flowing in the correct direction. If one of your heart valves has stopped functioning normally, you may require surgery to repair or replace the faulty valve. Once your Houston Methodist physician has diagnosed valve disease, the recommended treatment will be based on the severity of the defect. Your individualized course of treatment will depend on your specific condition, your age and several other factors. A Houston Methodist doctor will thoroughly explain your options and help you make an informed decision.

Treating Heart Valve Disease
Treatment for heart valve disease depends on the type and severity of the individual condition. Upon diagnosis, your doctor will want to protect your valve from further damage and lesson the current symptoms. If your condition is severe and other treatments have failed, such as medication, monitoring or a balloon valvuloplasty to open a narrowed valve, then heart valve surgery is the best option. Heart valve repair or replacement and mitral valve repair are two surgical options available; these are discussed in more depth below.

Heart Valve Repair or Replacement
Heart valve surgery is usually the best solution in most valve conditions that cannot be managed with medication. A multidisciplinary approach involving cardiac imaging specialists and expert cardiovascular surgeons will aim to repair the valve, rather than replace it. Repairing a valve enables patients to avoid long-term use of blood thinners and the possibility of infection, as well as other potential risks.

In cases requiring valve replacement, there are two types of replacement valves.
  • Mechanical valves are made of a durable material that can last 20 years or more, but they do require life-long blood thinning drugs to prevent clots.
  • Biological valves are made from either human or animal tissue. They may not last as long as mechanical valves in individuals less than 60 years of age, but they do not require the use of blood thinners.

Mitral Valve Repair
Mitral valve repair is a treatment option is for patients with significant, symptomatic, degenerative mitral regurgitation (MR) who are not candidates for surgery. MR is when your heart’s mitral valve does not close tightly, allowing blood to flow backward in your heart. The result is your blood cannot move through your heart or to the rest of your body as efficiently, making you feel tired or out of breath. Degenerative MR is caused by damage to the mitral valve leaflets. 


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