DOCTOR'S VIEWS ARCHIVE
Topic: Bicuspid Aortic Valve
What factors effect the longevity of a mechanical valve?
Another viewer has a 32-year-old husband who needs to have a St. Judes heart valve replaced after having it for 18 years. She wants to know what factors affect the longevity of a mechanical valve? Is there something he or she can do to prolong the longevity of the mechanical valve?
Dr. Michael Miyamoto:
There is nothing that a patient can directly do to prolong the life of their mechanical valve. Other than to adhere to taking medications such as the oral blood thinner, warfarin or coumadin. Which patients such as this would not only be taking to prevent the formation of blood clot on the valve structures and also to adhere to antibiotic prophylactics, that is again to taking antibiotics before dental and other procedure to minimize the risk of an infection from forming on the valve structure. A valve such as this that need to be replace may need be replaced because ingrowths of tissue around the valve ring that can eventually encroach upon the valve and cause dysfunction of the valve. Generally, metal valves themselves are a structurally quite sound and can last for many, many years. Problems that occur usually involve the body tissue response around the valve and causing this tissue ingrowths that can interfere with the valve function.
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