“The On-X heart valve is designed to be a valve for life”
I have been a devoted distance runner and cyclist since my college days. At age 57, I began experiencing increasing levels of exercise intolerance, which prompted me to see my doctor in June 2010. I was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation and moderate aortic stenosis resulting from a heavily calcified bi-cuspid aortic valve. This came as quite a shock, as I embraced a lifestyle that followed all of the medical community’s recommendations for good cardiac health. I was told that my native aortic valve would eventually require replacement and that there were a number of different tissue and mechanical valve choices available.
As time passed and my aortic stenosis progressed, I did a lot of research on the aspects of aortic valve replacement (AVR) that were important to me; valve selection and the pros and cons associated with all the replacement valves available, the different surgical procedures that could be used to replace my aortic valve and the lifestyle impact associated with the various types of replacement valves.
Initially, I thought a bovine tissue valve may be my best choice until I was told by several cardio-thoracic surgeons that a re-operation, to replace the degrading tissue valve as it reached end of life, would almost certainly be required 10 to 15 years later. I did not want to repeat this procedure if possible, so I began to seriously consider mechanical valves.
When I compared the features and specifications of the various mechanical valves, it became obvious that the On-X valve had many advantages over other mechanical valves, the two most important of which are that it is designed to be a valve for life and interim results from the Prospective Randomized On-X Anticoagulation Clinical Trial (PROACT) show that patients may be safely and effectively managed with significantly lower doses of anticoagulant therapy, i.e., Warfarin. My position was reinforced by my surgeon, who stated that the On-X valve would be a good choice for me.
I had AVR surgery on Monday morning, March 25, 2013. I was very fortunate that my surgeon was able to use a minimally invasive surgical procedure called a right anterior thoractomy, which went very smoothly and resulted in an incision just slightly over 2 inches in length! I credit this to the Grace of God, my very talented surgical team and the design of the On-X valve. I spent 24 hours in ICU and was discharged from the hospital on Thursday afternoon.
My recovery and rehabilitation has been complication free and my strength has steadily increased. I received approval to return to work without restrictions on April 24, 2013. I am presently 6 weeks post-op. The shortness of breath and light headedness I experienced pre-op are gone. I am presently walking up to 5 miles per day and enjoying some casual cycling. In summary, I feel great and look forward to returning to a lifestyle very similar to the one I enjoyed years before being diagnosed with aortic stenosis, but with one reassuring difference, the faint “ticking” of my new On-X aortic valve.
I would like to express my sincere thanks to all the staff at On-X, especially the conscientious and compassionate customer service representatives who answered all my questions and provided support that replaced anxiety with confidence and a positive outlook during the time leading up to my AVR surgery.