Aortic Valve Replacement

Aortic valve replacement is heart surgery to replace a diseased valve with a new valve. It is performed to improve symptoms including chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, light-headedness and fainting and to prevent life-threatening problems such as heart failure.

What is an aortic valve replacement?

An aortic valve replacement is heart surgery that replaces a narrowed or leaking aortic valve with a new valve.

You may need aortic valve replacement if you have:

  • Valve stenosis or narrowing – your aortic valve does not fully open and this smaller opening obstructs the blood flow out of your heart.
  • Valve regurgitation – your aortic valve does not close properly and allows your blood to leak back into your heart.

There are no medications to treat aortic valve problems and if left untreated they can worsen over time.

Aortic valve replacement can be performed in two ways:

  • Traditional open-heart surgery – typically takes a few hours and is performed under general anaesthetic. It involves a large cut in your chest so that your doctor can access your heart and replace the damaged or faulty valve with a new valve. Your heart is stopped and a heart-lung machine is connected to circulate blood around your body during the operation. Your heart is restarted and the opening in your chest is closed.
  • Minimally invasive surgery – is quicker to perform, your heart doesn't need to be stopped, a heart-lung machine isn’t needed and smaller cuts are made to your chest or a catheter is inserted in your leg or chest. There are two main types of minimal invasive aortic valve replacement surgery:
    • Aortic valve balloon valvuloplasty - involves passing a catheter through a large blood vessel into your heart and inflating a balloon to open up your aortic valve. It is used to treat a narrowed aortic valve but not a leaking one.
    • Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) - involves inserting a catheter into a blood vessel in your upper leg or chest, passing it towards your aortic valve and using it to guide and fix a new valve over the top of the old one.

Your aortic valve can be replaced by different materials. Mechanical (artificial) valves last a very long time but require you to take blood thinning medicines for the rest of your life to prevent blood clots forming on your valves. Tissue (animal) valves are usually replaced after 10 to 15 years but don’t require you to take life-long blood-thinning medicines.

Is aortic valve replacement open heart surgery?

Aortic valve replacement can be performed using open-heart surgery or minimally invasive techniques. The decision to use open or minimally invasive surgery will depend on many factors including the cause and extent of your diseased aortic valve, how many valves are affected, your symptoms, and your general health. Your doctor will explain the benefits and risks of each option.

What is the recovery process after an aortic valve replacement

The recovery process after an aortic valve replacement will depend on whether you have had open or minimally invasive surgery. Also, everyone recovers differently.

If you have had open surgery, you can expect to leave the hospital about a week after your operation and to make a full recovery within two to three months.

You will need to build up your activities gradually during your recovery.

In general, people can return to driving after about six weeks, when they can comfortably do an emergency stop. You can expect to go back to work after six to eight weeks if your job mainly involves light work or up to three months if it involves manual labour. You are advised to avoid strenuous exercise and heavy lifting for three months.

If you have had minimally invasive heart surgery you will have a shorter hospital stay, a quicker recovery and less pain than traditional open-heart surgery.

What is the cost of an aortic valve replacement

You will receive a formal quotation price for your aortic valve replacement following your consultation and any required tests with one of our expert cardiac surgeons. This formal quote for your aortic valve replacement surgery will be valid for 60 days and includes unlimited aftercare.

Ramsay is recognised by all major medical insurers. Aortic valve replacement surgery is covered by most medical insurance policies. We advise you to obtain written authorisation from your insurance provider before your aortic valve replacement procedure.

We have a number of finance options if you are paying for your aortic valve replacement yourself. These include:

  • Interest-free finance – 0% interest, no deposit and affordable monthly instalments.
  • All-inclusive Total Care - one-off pre-agreed payment for access to all the treatment and aftercare you need for complete reassurance.
  • Pay as you go – flexible funding to pay for your treatment as and when costs arise. Often used if your treatment costs are difficult to assess.

Aortic Valve Replacement at Ramsay Health Care UK

At Ramsay Health Care UK, we work with experienced and skilled cardiothoracic surgeons to perform your aortic valve replacement. They will discuss with you the best treatment option for your narrowed or leaking aortic valve and answer any questions you may have about the procedure. We offer both minimally invasive and open-heart surgery.

You will be offered convenient appointments for your consultation, cardiac tests and aortic valve replacement without waiting. This will allow you to get back to your daily life with improved symptoms and life-threatening conditions prevented.

Our Ramsay hospitals are easily accessible and typically have free car parking onsite. We have extensive safety measure in place to prevent infection whilst visiting our hospitals.

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