Aortic Valve Treatments
Medications may improve symptoms of aortic valve disease, but they do not stop progression of the disease. As the disease worsens, many people with aortic valve disease may need an aortic valve replacement.
Options for aortic valve replacement include open heart surgery or a minimally invasive approach called TAVR. At the St. Elizabeth Heart & Vascular Institute Structural Heart and Valve Center, our team of specialists provide an individualized evaluation to help determine which treatment option is best for you.
Open Heart Surgery
This is the traditional approach to replacing a faulty aortic valve. Your surgeon will cut through your breastbone to access your heart. A heart-lung bypass machine will do the work of your heart during the procedure.
Your surgeon will remove your narrowed aortic valve and replace it with an artificial valve. It will either be a mechanical valve made of ceramics, stainless steel or titanium, or a valve made from cow or pig tissue.
The surgery takes about three to five hours.
You will stay in the hospital for five to seven days so you can heal. It will take a few weeks to several months to fully recover from surgery.
Minimally Invasive Aortic Valve Replacement – TAVR
Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR – pronounced TAVV er) is a minimally invasive procedure that is now an option for many patients.
TAVR involves inserting a small tube called a catheter into an artery in your groin, and in certain cases, it may be necessary to place the catheter through an artery in your shoulder or neck. At the end of the catheter is a new heart valve made from animal tissue. Your doctor will guide the catheter and valve into your heart to the aortic valve.
Your doctor precisely places your new valve inside your old valve to regulate blood flow into the aorta.
The TAVR procedure takes about one to two hours. Its advantages over open heart surgery are less blood loss, less risk of infection and less pain after the procedure. You will spend two to five days in the hospital and generally return to normal activity within one to two weeks.
Valve replacement surgery has a very high success rate in relieving symptoms and a low rate of problems. It is best to seek a program like Florence Wormald Heart & Vascular Institute at St. Elizabeth Structural Heart and Valve Center that has experience performing a high volume of open heart surgery and TAVR cases.
Once you have your new aortic valve, you will take blood-thinning medication to help prevent blood clots. You may also need to take medication before certain dental procedures for infection prevention.
To keep your heart and aortic valve healthy, your doctor may suggest regular exercise, eating a low-fat, heart-healthy diet, keeping a healthy weight and not smoking.