After Valve Replacement Surgery

During the first day or two after valve replacement surgery, tubes placed in the body to help the patient breathe, to monitor pressures in the heart and arteries, and to prevent blood from accumulating in the lungs, are removed. Most patients remain in the hospital for a week after surgery and recovery takes approximately 3 to 4 weeks, after which most patients can resume leisure activities and many return to work. Patients who receive a mechanical valve must continue to take the blood thinner warfarin (Coumadin) to decrease the risk for blood clot formation on the valve.

Patients with an artificial valve carry an increased risk for developing an infection on the valve. Because the potential for bacteria to enter the bloodstream exists during any invasive procedure, patients who have an artificial heart valve are treated with antibiotics before undergoing any type of invasive procedure (called endocarditis prophylaxis).

Because artificial valves can malfunction, most physicians perform echocardiograms every 6 months or every year to monitor the valve.

Aortic Stenosis Prognosis

The prognosis for those who do not have valve replacement varies depending on the severity of AS (moderate, mild, or severe); presence and severity of symptoms (e.g., shortness of breath, fainting, chest pain); and the general health of the patient.

Sixty percent of patients who have valve replacement have a 10-year post-surgery survival rate.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 30 Jun 2000

Last Modified: 01 Sep 2015