The heart’s valves may weaken as people age or because of certain heart diseases. When heart valve disease develops, you may experience debilitating – even life-threatening – shortness of breath or severe chest pain.
Valve repair and valve replacement are types of open heart surgery or minimally invasive catheterization procedures to fix problems in the four valves of the heart:
With each contraction of the heart muscle, these valves open to allow blood to flow through your heart’s chambers. Then they close to prevent blood from flowing backward (regurgitation).
This process allows blood to flow into, through and out of your heart. The heart propels blood from the upper chambers (atria) to the lower chambers (ventricles) and from right to left.
When other treatments don’t work, heart valve repair or replacement may be the answer. At Aurora Health Care, our expert surgeons have repaired and replaced hundreds of heart valves. We’re committed to helping people of all ages live better, with healthy hearts.
When you need heart valve repair and replacement, you may be concerned about what kind of procedure you’ll need. We work hard to make it easy for you to get the answers you need through our multidisciplinary valve clinic.
Every year, we help hundreds of people and their families choose the right valve repair or valve replacement treatment by offering:
There are two common types of heart valve disease:
Aortic stenosis is the most common type of heart valve disease. Possible symptoms include:
Left untreated, 50% of people with this serious condition are not expected to live more than 2 years. Fortunately, heart valve repair and replacement offer hope.
Valve repair restores the valve’s shape, so it works more efficiently.
For regurgitation, we can perform a valve repair using special stitches or a ring to tighten the valve. This procedure is known as a ring annuloplasty.
We can also repair heart valves using minimally invasive, catheter-based procedures performed in our cardiac catheterization lab.
People who have valve disease now have even more options for minimally invasive valve repair. In transcatheter valve replacement or repair, we access the heart by inserting a catheter (a thin, flexible tube) through a blood vessel.
We offer these interventional cardiology procedures:
We use two types of valves for valve replacement:
We offer heart valve repair and replacement through either traditional open heart surgery or minimally invasive cardiac catheterization. Whenever possible, we use robotic tools and the latest small-incision approaches to help you recover quickly and safely after surgery.
Heart valve repair or replacement done as open heart surgery generally involves these steps:
You’ll probably go home about four to six days after your heart valve repair or replacement. Most people recover enough to return to normal activities in four to six weeks. People whose jobs involve heavy work may need to recover a bit longer.
Your doctor may recommend cardiac rehab after surgery to regain your strength. We offer cardiac rehabilitation at locations throughout eastern Wisconsin.
Depending on the type of valve repair or replacement, you may have to take an anticoagulant (a drug that helps keep your blood from clotting, also known as a blood thinner) for the short or long term. The most common anticoagulant is warfarin.
If you need an anticoagulant, you’ll receive instructions before you are discharged. After you return home, you can get more help with anticoagulants at our anticoagulation clinics.