How Long Is Recovery After Aortic Valve Replacement (And Why)?

Exact Answer: Up To One Week

Aortic Valve Replacement is replacing a failed aortic valve of a patient with a heart valve produced artificially. There are two main reasons for the replacement. Sometimes it is replaced because there might be a leakage in the valve, or the valve may be narrowed and open completely.

The current procedure of replacing the aortic valve is done by open-heart surgery. There are three main procedures of aortic valve replacement. The first one is referred to as minimally invasive cardiac surgery. The second one is called transcatheter aortic valve replacement, and the last one is known as surgical aortic valve replacement.

How Long Is Recovery After Aortic Valve Replacement?

Aortic Valve Replacement is a lengthy process, and it requires a lot of precision to carry out the process smoothly. The heart surgery is carried out by a medical expert known as a cardiologist. The cardiologist decides whether a patient will be benefited from heart valve repair or not. A cardiologist is also the one with the last say on whether the tissue valve is replaced or the mechanical one. Valve selection is crucial before starting the process, and incorrect valve selection can lead to severe complications, and in rare cases, it has also caused heart failure.

The procedure of aortic valve displacement is carried out by surgery. The surgery is done through the median sternotomy. An incision is made through the breastbone of the patient. Anesthesia is given to the patient before starting the surgery so that the person doesn’t feel any pain. A cardiopulmonary bypass machine is used during the surgery, and after that, the heart of the patient is stopped temporarily, which is medically termed cardioplegia. After the valve is replaced, the incision is closed, and the patient is transferred to the recovery room for healing purposes.

Condition After Valve ReplacementTime Required After Valve Replacement
Normal Recovery TimeOne To Two Days
Recovery Time With ComplicationsFive To Seven Days

It is widely advised to give the body an ample amount of time to recover after aortic valve replacement. The expected recovery time after the surgery is one to two days. In contrast, if the patient suffers any complications after the surgery, the body takes more time to recover, and the healing is completed in around seven days.

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Why Does It Take That Long To Recover After Aortic Valve Replacement?

The need for replacing the aortic valve was first identified in the early 1940s, and the process got limited success in the first attempt, which was carried out in the late 1940s. The initial attempts of the process were termed valvotomies which referred to the cutting of the aortic valve when the heart was still pumping. But soon, multiple complications of this procedure were discovered, which lead to the innovation of the cardiopulmonary bypass process. This process was found out to be very durable and effective in most cases.

After the valve replacement is completed, the patient is asked to remain in the hospital for about a week for monitoring purposes and to identify whether any severe complications have arisen or not. The recovery time mainly varies with age and the overall immunity of the patient. However, the breastbone needs a minimum of six weeks to heal completely, and it may take up to three months for a patient to feel normal again. However, the patient recovers enough in one week to start everyday routine work without putting a lot of pressure on the body.

Aortic valve replacement has few complications, but the procedure is believed to be safe and very much effective. The death rate of the surgery is estimated to be below one percent, proving the efficacy of the surgery. However, if the patient feels any discomfort, then a medical expert must be consulted immediately.

Conclusion

Finally, it can be concluded that aortic valve replacement is a heart surgery process in which failed valve is replaced with an artificial one. The surgery is carried out by a cardiologist and requires a lot of precision. Open-heart surgery is required for the replacement, and a cardiopulmonary bypass machine is used for the same.

On average, a patient takes around one week to recover from the surgery and start the day-to-day works. However, the breastbone requires a longer time to heal completely, and not a lot of pressure should be applied to the body. The surgery is considered very safe. Still, medical guidance is required in any discomfort.

References

  1. https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/abs/10.1161/01.CIR.66.5.1105
  2. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1103510
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