Aortic Valve Replacement

Heart disease affects more than 5 million people each year and some require heart valve replacement surgery. The aortic valve may need to be replaced in order to treat aortic stenosis or aortic regurgitation.

Aortic Heart Valve Replacement Options

Aortic heart valves can be surgically replaced with artificial or prosthetic heart valves. There are two types of prosthetic heart valves, tissue valves and mechanical valves. Tissue valves are not as durable as mechanical valves, and are much more likely to require reoperation due to early failure, especially for younger patients. Gradual degradation of tissue valves can cause symptoms to return for several years prior to eventual reoperation.

The American Heart Association recommends tissue valves for patients older than 70 and mechanical valves for patients age 60 or younger. Either valve type is reasonable for patients between the ages of 60 and 70, depending on the patient’s health and life expectancy. The choice of heart valve should be made between the patient and their doctor.

All mechanical valve patients require anticoagulation therapy with warfarin which creates a risk of harmful bleeding. Around one-third of tissue valve patients require anticoagulation after surgery. Even though anticoagulation is not prescribed for all tissue valve patients, there is still a similar risk for complications such as stroke as there is for properly anticoagulated mechanical valves.

On-X Aortic Heart Valves

The On-X aortic heart valve is the only mechanical valve FDA approved and clinically proven to be safer with less warfarin. In a prospective randomized clinical trial, On-X heart valve patients with a reduced warfarin dose had 65% fewer harmful bleeding events without an increase in stroke risk. The On-X aortic heart valve is at the sweet spot for aortic heart valve replacement, with much lower risk of reoperation than any tissue valve, and with less warfarin and bleeding risk than any other mechanical valve.

If you are under 70 and need aortic valve replacement, ask your doctor about the On-X aortic heart valve, the only lifelong valve option safer with reduced anticoagulation.

Minimally Invasive and Transcatheter Options

Many patients have questions about Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR). TAVR is a valve replacement procedure that is intended only for patients who are considered too high of risk to undergo open heart surgery. The complication rates are higher than with valves that are surgically replaced. Because the valves do not perform as well as surgically implanted valves, it is not a safe long-term option for the majority of patients who are healthy enough to undergo surgery.

There are other minimally invasive surgical techniques for aortic valve replacement that can be used to implant heart valves, including the On-X valve. The main benefit of minimally invasive surgery is that it leaves behind a smaller scar. Ask your doctor if you are a candidate to receive an On-X aortic heart valve with minimally invasive surgery.

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