- When Do You Need It
The survival rate for a heart valve replacement surgery depends on which valve is involved. This was analyzed in a large study in which the lifespan of a large population, who went ahead with the surgery, is observed for a specific timeframe.
The 5-year survival rate means what percentage of people lived for at least 5 years after the surgery. Similarly, the 10-year survival rate means what percentage of people lived for at least 10 years after the surgery.
For example, the 5-year survival rates (as shown in table 1) for aortic valve replacement (AVR) surgery is 94%. This means 94 out of 100 people who underwent AVR surgery could live at least 5 years.
Table 1: The Survival Rates as Per the Type of Valve in Heart Valve Replacement Surgeries
Heart valve replacement surgery
5-year survival rate
10-year survival rate
Aortic valve replacement surgery
Mitral valve replacement surgery
Pulmonary valve replacement surgery
Tricuspid valve replacement surgery
Survival rates for heart valve replacement surgery are often used as predictors of how long patients can live beyond a certain number of years (5 years, 10 years) after the surgery. However, these may vary for you depending on your age, your overall health, and the current status of your heart function. Discuss with your doctor about these factors to know about your life expectancy after the surgery.
What are the four types of heart valves?
The heart is made up of four pumping chambers:
- Two atria: Upper chambers of the heart
- Two ventricles: Lower chambers of the heart
There are valves between each of the heart's pumping chambers that open and close in coordination with each other. Their action keeps blood flowing forward through the heart. There are four valves in the heart:
When do you need heart valve replacement surgery?
A heart valve disease develops when the valve becomes either stiff, narrow (stenosis), or leaky (regurgitation). These two disease states of the valve disrupt the flow of blood in and out of the heart.
Heart valve diseases can be present by birth (congenital) or occur as a complication of other health conditions, such as rheumatic heart disease.
Many people who have heart valve disease may never experience any symptoms. Sometimes, the valve disease is diagnosed when a woman is pregnant. Doctors may still recommend heart valve replacement surgery to prevent the worsening of the heart condition.
With a diseased valve, heart valve replacement surgery becomes an emergency if you experience:
How is a heart valve replacement surgery performed?
Heart valve replacement surgery can be performed via any of the two approaches:
- Open-heart surgery: Traditional method of heart surgery in which a large incision is made in the chest; the heart is stopped for a time so that the surgeon can repair or replace the valve.
- Minimally invasive heart surgery: These are the newer techniques in which the doctors make smaller incisions over the chest to replace the heart valves.
The diseased valves may be replaced by any of the artificial valves that include:
- Manufactured mechanical valve: Made up of carbon-coated plastic, the mechanical valve is the most durable type of valve that will usually last for your entire lifetime.
- Donor’s valve: This is an actual human valve taken from a donor and implanted in your heart (donor valve implantation). It usually lasts for anywhere between 10 to 20 years.
- Tissue valve: Created from animal valves or tissues, this type of heart valve is expected to stay healthy for 10 to 20 years after the surgery.
Your doctor will discuss the benefits and risks of the available surgical options as well as of the types of valves.
What are the risks involved in heart valve replacement surgery?
Heart valve replacement surgery is a major surgery that can turn life-threatening at times. The possible risks of this surgery include:
- Bleeding during or after the surgery
- Blood clots that can get lodged in the arteries of
- Heart (and cause a heart attack)
- Brain (and cause stroke)
- Lungs (and causes extreme difficulty in breathing)
- Infection of the operative wound
- Infection of lungs, such as pneumonia
- Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)
- Arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms)
- Malfunctioning of the new (implanted) valve
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Kvidal P, et al. Observed and relative survival after aortic valve replacement. Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 2000 Mar 1;35(3):747-56.
Vassileva CM, et al. Long-term survival of patients undergoing mitral valve repair and replacement: a longitudinal analysis of Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries. Circulation. 2013 May 7;127(18):1870-6.
Babu-Narayan SV, et al. Clinical outcomes of surgical pulmonary valve replacement after repair of tetralogy of Fallot and potential prognostic value of preoperative cardiopulmonary exercise testing. Circulation. 2014 Jan 7;129(1):18-27.
Jain A, Oster M, Kilgo P, Grudziak J, Jokhadar M, Book W, Kogon BE. Risk factors associated with morbidity and mortality after pulmonary valve replacement in adult patients with previously corrected tetralogy of Fallot. Pediatr Cardiol. 2012 Apr;33(4):601-6.
Moraca RJ, et al. Outcomes of tricuspid valve repair and replacement: a propensity analysis. Ann Thorac Surg. 2009 Jan;87(1):83-8.
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