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British Heart Foundation
6,884 members4,330 posts

Long in tooth

Hi. As you can see from my title I am a pensioner. I have been for 9 years now, but I am posting here because I have an artificial aortic heart valve that has been in place coming up to 40 years. As far as I am aware it ticks away without a problem, but one does wonder how long it will last, although I am fairly optimistic about it. I have also been on Warfarin for that length of time and do wonder about long term effects of ingesting what is effectively rat poison. Also, I have an unrelated condition which requires an MRI scan for reliable diagnosis. My old hospital happily carried these out on various occasions, but I have moved and my new hospital refuse on the grounds that my valve is old. I am prepared to take the risk, but they aren't so we have stalemate. However, if anyone want's to know about how to live with a replacement heart valve, I am here (for now) :-)

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If you have a mechanical valve it should in theory last your whole life with no need to repeat the surgery provided you avoid infective endocarditis.

Sorry can not comment on the long term effects of Warfarin as my doctor has explicitly chosen tissue valve to avoid it. This is in part due to the fact I am only 20 and Warfarin in pregnancy is not ideal- it is normally replaced now with heparin due to the risk to the foetus. However, I have heard from others (an man I met in the cardiology clinic) who have been on mechanical valves that if you develop problems elsewhere in your body elsewhere that needs operating on you are ,more likely to be deemed unfit for surgery due to the bleeding risk. Note: I use 'more likely/ rather than 'will be' if the surgery will save you life then it will be done but if the surgery is more a quality of life/pain management exercise people will think twice. To be fair this man was in his 70's and the op was for arthritis which while painful was not life threatening which a bleed would have been.

The age old MRI stalemate. Been there done that as I had a medtronic reveal recorder implanted. But I have to say my mum is a MRI Radiographer so receives the international memo's about MRI accidents and if you hear the stories you would understand the almost paranoia approach of doctors.

*Trigger Warning*

An illustrative example from the US that was on the international memo's. Neonatal sedated on oxygen. Radiographer checked and changed any component not MRI compatible. Left the neonatal to set up the imaging sequence- then a junior doctor noted oxygen supply was running low so changed it for a non-MRI compatible one. Then pushed the baby into the scan room. Oxygen canister flew through the babies chest like a cannonball killing it instantly. Once my mum showed me this memo I never again felt that radiographers were being over cautious- the concern (if sometime misplaced) is very justified.


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