Nature, Symptoms, Risks and Cost of Heart Valve Replacement Explained

Your heart is fundamentally a pump with four valves that promotes the blood flow in your body in the right direction at the proper rate. The heart continues to best and with each heartbeat, the valves of your heart open and close. However, in case your valves fail to work properly due to a problem, you can be considered for a heart valve replacement surgery.

Valves start to malfunction owing to two cardinal reasons including, heart disorder and ageing. If the valve does not open in the correct manner, the resulting problem can be stenosis. In Stenosis, the aortic valve becomes narrow. The valve present in your heart should open properly so that a precise amount of blood can be pumped through it. In case, your valves do not close properly, you can suffer from a condition called regurgitation wherein, the blood starts leaking into other parts of your heart. The particular type of treatment procedure your doctor will suggest is contingent on the involved heart valves, the type and severity of the valve disease such as Aortic valve disease, Mitral valve disease

Pulmonary valve disease, Tricuspid valve disease, to name a few.

For diagnosis, your doctor can suggest you to undergo a wide range of screening tests and procedures including, resting and exercise electrocardiogram (ECG), Holter monitor,  cardiac catheterization, chest X-ray, computed tomography (CT scan) of the chest, signal-averaged ECG, echocardiography , electrophysiological studies, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the heart, myocardial perfusion scans, radionuclide angiography and ultrafast CT scan. The reports of all these procedures will help your doctor to assess the condition of your heart correctly.

There was a point in time when malfunctioned valves were treated with the help of an open heart surgery. In fact, there was no other way to get to your heart but to open it via cutting through the breastbone or sternum. After the heart got exposed, the operating surgeon would insert long tubes into the heart that allows the blood to be pumped through your body while the surgery is taking place. The inserted tubes along with a cardiopulmonary bypass machine help the blood to flow continually during the impaired valve is replaced.

However, with improvements in technology, doctors use minimally invasive heart surgery to treat your damaged valves. This procedure allows the operating cardiac surgeon to make minute incisions in the chest area contrary to the open heart surgical procedure wherein your chest cavity is opened entirely to reach the heart. In this procedure, the operating heart surgeon manoeuvres to work between the ribs. The prime advantage of this surgery is its less painful and quicker recovery period. Though the doctor will still need to impede your heart for either repairing or replacing the valve, this minimally invasive method can permit your doctor to get a better view of the heart.

You have to consult your doctor to become aware of whether a minimally invasive surgery is an option for you or not. Normally, people who had a heart surgery previously or possess symptoms of some heart disorders do not qualify for a less invasive procedure.

What are symptoms of heart valve problems?

You need a valve replacement repair surgery if you suffer from a set of symptoms including, dizziness, chest pain, shortness of breath, severe heart palpitations, swelling of the feet, ankles, or abdomen, sudden and quick weight gain due to fluid retention and more.

What are the possible risks of heart valve replacement surgery?

Like every other surgery, valve replacement surgery involves a relatively large number of health hazards such as bleeding (while the surgery takes place or after), blood clots, wound infection, breathing issues, irregular heart rhythms, pneumonia etc.

After the procedure:

After the procedure, you can expect to be under close observation for several days, which include the time spent in the ICU. Your heart's physical parameters such as blood pressure, breathing rate and level of oxygen are monitored with the help of monitors attached to your heart.  While the monitoring is taking place, it is crucial that you cough and inhale deeply. Though this may seem uncomfortable, it helps in detecting the presence of mucous in your lungs that may cause pneumonia. Also, you will be prescribed with medications to alleviate pain.

Cost of Heart Valve Replacement in India

The cost of heart valve replacement in India is significantly lower than that in western countries including, US and UK. The price starts from USD 7000.

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