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Getting a Replacement Valve

Getting a Replacement Heart Valve

Mechanical heart valves are made of graphite and coated with pyrolytic carbon. Studies have shown that the St. Jude Medical™ valve is very durable and may last beyond 50 years.1 However, some complications with blood clot formation may impair your valve function and you may need to have your heart valve replaced.

Mechanical valves are more durable than tissue valves, which are made of animal tissue. Some clinical studies show that tissue heart valves may last from eight to 20 years depending on their position.1,2 Aortic valves have tended to last longer than mitral valves in these studies. The exact timing depends on the type of tissue valve, your age, lifestyle, medication requirements and other factors.

The symptoms of valve failure may be the same symptoms you experienced before surgery, such as:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Fluid retention

If you experience one or more of these symptoms, notify your doctor.

Your doctor is the best resource for information about needing a replacement heart valve.

REFERENCES

1. Elizondo D. R., Boland, E. D., Ambrus, J. R., & Kurk, J. L. (1996). Mechanical cardiac valve prostheses: Wear characteristics and magnitudes in three bileaflet valves. The Journal of Heart Valve Disease, 5(Suppl. 1), S115-S123, discussion 144-8. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8803764