There are benefits and drawbacks associated with every decision you make. The same is true with the type of valve you select for your valve replacement surgery. While your surgeon will likely lead you in the direction that's best for you, it's important that you understand the risks and benefits associated with each type of replacement valve so you can make an informed decision. The type of valve that's right for you depends on a variety of factors, including your age, lifestyle, and health issues.
Mechanical Replacement Valve
Mechanical valves last longer, so they are generally used in younger patients. Mechanical valves also offer better flow. They are often used in patients who are active or plan to be active for many years. However, mechanical valves can lead to the formation of blood clots, which is why people who have a mechanical valve have to take blood thinners. These medications carry inherent risks and may lead to severe, even life threatening, consequences. For this reason, frequent blood monitoring and echo-cardiograms are recommended for anyone with a mechanical valve. The risks associated with mechanical valves are greater than those associated with new tissue valves that are less than 10 years old.
Mechanical valves also make a clicking noise when they open and shut, which is audible to some people. This may be a consideration as well.
Tissue Replacement Valve
Tissue valves wear out over time. Generally, they last about 10 to 15 years. Once they wear out, they need to be replaced. For this reason, tissue valves are typically used in patients with a life expectancy that's shorter than the tissue valve. Tissue valves do not require blood thinners and do not carry the risk of clotting, which is why they are generally safer than mechanical valves for the first 10 years. However, after 10 years, the risks associated with tissue valves increase. People who expect to live beyond the life expectancy of their tissue valve should expect more surgery in the future.
When it comes to valve replacement, mechanical valves and tissue valves are not superior or inferior on their own. But one valve may be a better option for one patient and not for another. For this reason, you have to take into account your age, lifestyle, and health conditions before selecting a valve. Also, lean on the advice of your cardiologist who will select the valve that's best for you.
For more information, contact local professionals like Firelands Regional Medical Center.