5 Important Things to Know about Mitral Valve Surgery

The surgery performed to replace or repair your heart’s mitral valve is known as mitral valve surgery. Blood travels from the lungs to the left ventricle of the heart through the left atrium. The movement and flow of the blood between these two chambers of the heart is ensured by the mitral valve. Calcification of the mitral valve makes it hard and it prevents the flow of the blood. The blood tends to flow backwards in case mitral valve is too loose. Both the conditions require mitral valve surgery.

Procedure of Mitral Valve Surgery:

  • First of all, you are given a general anesthesia. After anesthesia, during the surgery, you are placed on a heart-lung machine and a large incision is made on your chest by the doctor.
  • With the use of heart-lung machine the oxygen is added and blood is circulated outside the body. The process is also known as cardiopulmonary bypass.
  • The heart is cooled to slow down or stop the heartbeat in order to replace the heart valve and protect the heart muscle from any damage during the surgical procedure.
  • The damaged mitral valve is cut out and removed. It is replaced with an artificial heart valve which is sewn into the place where mitral valve was located.

It takes few days to recover in the hospital’s intensive care unit (ICU). The full recovery process takes several months and consists of the healing of the surgical incision, building up physical endurance in a gradual process, and exercising. There are various symptoms you will suffer from after mitral valve surgery for 4 to 6 weeks such as tiredness, sharp pain on either side of your chest; incision may get sore or swollen.

This does not include the activities which can strain your chest or upper arm muscles such as lifting heavy objects. You need to take care of your eating habits and take only hear-friendly foods, get regular exercise, don’t smoke, take the medicines timely, and most important reduce stress. Your doctor may advice you to work with a nurse, dietitian, and physiotherapist to chart out your routine and help in recovery. This is also known as cardiac rehabilitation.

Life after Surgery:

Your heart will start functioning normally after you get an artificial valve. The symptoms of a faulty mitral valve will also stop after the surgery; for instance you will not have shortness of breath and fatigue, but you may keep on experiencing these symptoms if your heart was severely affected before the procedure.

You can start your normal activities after few months but still watch out for blood clots and infections. You should visit the doctor regularly since artificial valve needs to be replaced after some time. You are prone to develop blood clots in your heart in case you have a mechanical heart valve. Thus, you will need to take an anticoagulant (blood thinner) in order to prevent blood clots for the remainder of your life.

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