If the diseased native heart valve cannot be repaired, the surgeon may choose to replace it. Heart valve replacement surgery involves removing the diseased valve and replacing it with a prosthetic valve by sewing it to the annulus of the natural valve. Prosthetic valves come in different sizes to fit the patient and are made from a variety of materials. Approximately 95 percent of all valve replacements are performed for aortic or mitral valves.
There are two main types of prosthetic heart valves. Tissue (bioprosthetic) valves are made primarily from animal tissue, for example, a pig’s aortic (porcine) valve or from bovine pericardium. Mechanical valves are created from man-made materials.
Choosing the right treatment option is a decision that should be made in close cooperation with a doctor. Factors that need to be considered when choosing a treatment option include age, risks and benefits of each type of treatment, current medications, other medical conditions, and lifestyle.
Ask your doctor about heart valve repair or replacement surgery. Both procedures are commonly used and highly effective in treating heart valve conditions. You may even be able to stop taking certain medications after surgery.