What is Heart Valve Replacement? - GO.CARE Blog
What is Heart Valve Replacement?
Author: Hào Nghiêm
Review Date: August 6, 2018 | Last Modified: January 12, 2019
What is Heart Valve Replacement?


1. What is Heart Valve Replacement?

In heart valve disease, at least one of the four heart valves that keep blood flowing in the correct direction through your heart doesn’t function properly. These valves include the mitral valve, tricuspid valve, pulmonary valve and aortic valve. Each valve has flaps called leaflets, for the mitral and tricuspid valves, and cusps, for the aortic and pulmonary valves. These flaps open and close once during each heartbeat.

Sometimes the valves don’t open or close properly, disrupting the blood flow through your heart to your body.

Severe valve damage means the need for Heart Valve Replacement, which most often involves the aortic or mitral valve.

2. What is the purpose of Heart Valve Replacement?

Heart Valve Replacement provides treatment to any valve disease that is life-threatening. Some patients may need more than one valve repaired or replaced.

Two kinds of valves can be used for Heart Valve Replacement:

  • Mechanical valves are usually made from materials such as plastic, carbon, or metal. Mechanical valves are strong, and they last a long time. Because blood tends to stick to mechanical valves and create blood clots, patients with these valves will need to take blood-thinning medicines (called anticoagulants) for the rest of their lives.
  • Biological valves are made from animal tissue (called a xenograft) or taken from the human tissue of a donated heart (called an allograft or homograft). Sometimes, a patient’s own tissue can be used for valve replacement (called an autograft). Patients with biological valves usually do not need to take blood-thinning medicines. These valves are not as strong as mechanical valves, though, and they may need to be replaced every 10 years or so. Biological valves break down even faster in children and young adults, so these valves are used most often in elderly patients.

You and your doctor will decide which type of valve is best for you.

During Heart Valve Replacement, the surgeon will divide the breastbone, stop the heart, and send the blood through a heart-lung machine. As the heart or the aorta stays opened, heart valve surgery is open heart surgery.


1. When is Heart Valve Replacement needed?

Heart Valve Replacement is necessary when your condition is either getting worse, turning severe or you are experiencing signs and symptoms of valve dysfunction.

Your doctor will discuss with you whether heart valve repair or replacement is most appropriate for your condition. Doctors often recommend heart valve repair when possible, as it preserves your heart valve and may preserve heart function. In some cases, you may need Heart Valve Replacement.

2. Who are eligible for Heart Valve Replacement?

Need further information? Contact GO.CARE manage team to get more details from expert doctors and medical specialists.


Typically in the U.S., for patients covered by health insurance, out-of-pocket costs consist of doctor visit copays, prescription drug copays and coinsurance of 10%-50% or more, which probably would reach the yearly out-of-pocket maximum. Heart Valve Replacement typically is covered by health insurance.

For patients not covered by health insurance, valve replacement surgery typically costs from about $80,000-$200,000 or more with an average, according to an

American Heart Association report, of $164,238, not including the doctor fee. A surgeon fee can add $5,000 or more to the final bill. For example, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire charges about $86,500, including doctor fee, after a 30% uninsured discount. St. Mary’s Hospital in Wisconsin charges an average of $107,000, but costs can reach $200,000 or more. And Baptist Memorial Health Care charges about $75,000-$140,000, not including doctor fee, but cost can go up to more than $200,000 with major complications.

In Vietnam, it costs 80,000,000 VND-100,000,000 VND for Heart Valve Replacement, with health insurance the cost is only 30,000,000 VND.


1. What should I do before Heart Valve Replacement?

Your doctor and team will discuss with you concerns you may have about your Heart Valve Replacement. Discuss with your doctor and treatment team any questions you may have about the procedure.

Here are some of the thing you may need to do in order to prepare for Heart Valve Replacement:

  • You will need to have your hair shaved at the location of your body where the procedure will take place.
  • Before being admitted to the hospital for your surgery, talk to your family about your hospital
  • Stay and discuss help you may need when you return home. Your doctor and treatment team may give you specific instructions to follow during your recovery when you return home.
  • Talk to your doctor about food and medications such as when you can take your regular medications and whether you can take them before your surgery, or when you should stop eating or drinking the night before the surgery.

Your treatment team may recommend that you bring several items to the hospital including:

  • A list of your medications
  • Eyeglasses, hearing aids or dentures
  • Personal care items, such as a brush, comb, shaving equipment and toothbrush
  • Loose-fitting, comfortable clothing
  • A copy of your advance directive
  • Items that may help you relax, such as portable music players or books

During surgery, avoid wearing:

  • Jewelry
  • Eyeglasses
  • Contact lenses
  • Dentures
  • Nail polish

Talk to your doctor about any medications you have brought to the hospital and when you should take medications on the day of the procedure, as well as any allergies or reactions you have had to medications.

2. What should I do after Heart Valve Replacement?

Recovery after valve surgery may take a long time, depending on how healthy you were before the operation. You will have to rest and limit your activities. Your doctor may want you to begin an exercise program or to join a cardiac rehabilitation program.

If you have an office job, you can usually go back to work in 4 to 6 weeks. Those who have more physically demanding jobs may need to wait longer.

Once you are home, it will be important to keep the surgical area clean and dry. Your doctor will give you specific bathing instructions. The sutures or surgical staples will be removed during a follow-up office visit, if they were not removed before leaving the hospital.

You should not drive until your doctor tells you to. Other activity restrictions may apply.

Notify your doctor to report any of the following:

  • Fever and/or chills
  • Redness, swelling, or bleeding or other drainage from the incision site
  • Increase in pain around the incision site
  • Your doctor may give you additional or alternate instructions after the procedure, depending on your particular situation.

Need further information? Contact GO.CARE manage team to get more details from expert doctors and medical specialists.


1. How long does Heart Valve Replacement last?

The surgery can take anywhere from 2 to 4 hours or more, depending on the number of valves that need to be repaired or replaced. You can expect to stay in the hospital for about a week, including at least 1 to 3 days in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

2. How is the procedure of Heart Valve Replacement?

Most patients are admitted to the hospital the day before surgery or, in some cases, on the morning of surgery.

Small metal disks called electrodes will be attached to your chest. These electrodes are connected to an electrocardiogram machine, which will monitor your heart’s rhythm and electrical activity.

You will receive a local anesthetic to numb the area where a plastic tube (called a line) will be inserted in an artery in your wrist. An intravenous (IV) line will be inserted in your vein. The IV line will give you the anesthesia during the operation. You will be given something to help you relax (a mild tranquilizer) before you are taken into the operating room.

After you are completely asleep, a tube will be inserted down your windpipe and connected to a machine called a respirator, which will take over your breathing.

Another tube will be inserted through your nose and down your throat, into your stomach. This tube will stop liquid and air from collecting in your stomach, so you will not feel sick and bloated when you wake up. A thin tube called a catheter will be inserted into your bladder to collect any urine produced during the operation.

A heart-lung machine is used for all valve repair or replacement surgeries. This will keep oxygen-rich blood flowing through your body while your heart is stopped. A perfusion technologist or blood-flow specialist operates the heart-lung machine.

Before you are hooked up to this machine, a blood-thinning medicine called an anticoagulant will be given to prevent your blood from clotting. The surgical team is led by the cardiovascular surgeon and includes other assisting surgeons, an anesthesiologist, and surgical nurses.

After hooking you up to the heart-lung machine, the surgeon will stop and cool your heart. Next, they will make a cut into the heart or aorta, depending on which valve they are replacing. Once the surgeon has finished the replacement, he or she will then start the heart again, and disconnect you from the heart-lung machine.

3. What happens after the procedure?

After your Heart Valve Replacement, you will generally spend a day or more in the intensive care unit (ICU). The medical team will give you fluids, nutrition and medications through intravenous (IV) lines. Other tubes will drain urine from your bladder and drain fluid and blood from your heart and chest. They will also give you oxygen.

After the ICU, they will move you to a regular hospital room for several days. The time you spend in the ICU and hospital can vary, depending on your condition and surgery.

Your treatment team may monitor your condition and watch for signs of infection in your incision sites. They will check your blood pressure, breathing and heart rate. Moreover, they will also work with you to manage pain you may experience after surgery.

Moreover, the medical team will also instruct you to walk regularly to gradually increase your activity and to do breathing exercises as you recover.

Your doctor will give you instructions to follow during your recovery, such as watching for signs of infection in your incisions, properly caring for incisions, taking medications, and managing pain and other side effects after your surgery.

Need further information? Contact GO.CARE manage team to get more details from expert doctors and medical specialists.

Complications & Side Effects

1. What complications could arise from Heart Valve Replacement?

Heart valve surgery complications may include:

  • Bleeding
  • Heart attack
  • Infection
  • Valve dysfunction in replacement valve
  • Irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia)
  • Stroke
  • Death

2. What are the possible side effects of Heart Valve Replacement?

Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have any of these:

  • Fever of 100.4°F/38°C or higher, or chills (these may be a sign of infection)
  • Redness, swelling, bleeding, or drainage from the incision site or any of the catheter sites
  • Increase in pain around the incision site
  • Trouble breathing
  • Increased swelling in the legs or abdomen
  • Easy bruising
  • Persistent nausea or vomiting
  • Rapid or irregular pulse
  • Weakness in the arms and legs
  • Your healthcare provider may give you other instructions after the procedure, depending on your situation.

Need further information? Contact GO.CARE manage team to get more details from expert doctors and medical specialists.

Please choose the best hospitals and clinics that provide Heart Valve Replacement in Asia to get the most suitable healthcare for your condition.

GO.CARE  does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

1. Heart valve surgeryhttps://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/heart-valve-surgery/about/pac-20384901. Accessed on May 11, 2018.

2. Treatment for Heart Valve Diseasehttps://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/guide/valve-disease-treatment#1. Accessed on May 11, 2018.

3. Heart Valve Replacement Costhttp://health.costhelper.com/valve-replacement.html. Accessed on May 11, 2018.

4. Valve Repair or Replacementhttps://www.texasheart.org/heart-health/heart-information-center/topics/valve-repair-or-replacement/. Accessed on May 11, 2018.

5. Risks & Side Effectshttps://stanfordhealthcare.org/medical-treatetts/h/heart-valve-repair-replacement/risks.html. Accessed on May 11, 2018.

6. Heart Valve Repair or Replacement Surgeryhttps://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/test_procedures/cardiovascular/heart_valve_repair_or_replacement_surgery_92,P07975. Accessed on May 11, 2018.