AVR Surgery: Hi all thank you for... - British Heart Fou...

British Heart Foundation

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AVR Surgery


Hi all thank you for letting me join your group. Advice needed.. after all the tests I’m looking at hemiarch & ascending aorta replacement with valve repair or replacement. At 47 with no previous health issues I’m VERY anxious. I have an outpatients appointment with the surgeon on Monday and wanted to ask you all with previous experience what I should be asking at this meeting (what do you wish you would have asked/known beforehand). Really appreciate any advice you can give.. scared beyond belief.

12 Replies

Hi Mark

I can understand how you feel, I had my first AVR at 52 but at least I had known from the age of 16 that I would need surgery at some time. I had a tissue valve and my aorta wrapped rather than replaced. Unfortunately it started to leak and I ended up having a mechanical valve last November. You will need to discuss what sort of valve to have. Tissue valves mean you will have to have another operation at some point, but it may be that by the time that is needed they will be able to do it via keyhole and there are some new tissue valves with a longer life expectancy. The advantage of a mechanical valve is that you don’t have to have surgery again but you do have to take warfarin. You need to watch your diet carefully to get your INR (blood clotting) levels steady. My clinic supports home testing so I bought a machine, do the test, ring the clinic and they tell me the dose to take. Some GP surgeries help by prescribing the test strips, but unfortunately mine doesn’t, but the convenience of home testing, especially as I work for time, outweighs the cost of the equipment.

I think the type of valve is the main question. Reading other posts it seems the stay in hospital is usually about 5-7 days. I was then off work for 12 weeks, but that really depends what sort of job you do. I couldn’t drive for 6 weeks and you wouldn’t really want to do it any earlier as your chest will still be sore.

I’m sure you’ll have lots of questions about the op and recovery once you’ve seen your surgeon. There are plenty of us on here who’ve had open heart surgery so between us I’m sure we can answer any questions you have and hopefully put your mind at rest - a bit at least.

Let us know how you get on.


markhig in reply to Fredders

Thank you so much for taking the time to respond Wendy. I’ll need some hand holding as I go through this so any help is always more that appreciated

Really grateful for coming back to me. I’ll know more on Monday and no doubt will be begging for advice on here. So glad to have found this forum.

If you think of more questions after seeing your consultant ring the BHF helpline. The nurses are wonderfully helpful. It helps keeping stress and frustration down too. Good luck.

markhig in reply to vjh1art

Thank you vjh1art. Much appreciate your time

Thank you Serg. All the responses I’ve had have been exactly what I need

Hiya! Totally understand your scared I had my AVR done at 6yrs ago and I was 28, I had biological valve due to wanting a family and now have since had a girl and boy but today been told I need it replacing sooner rather than later as the gradient across my valve has increased significantly. Totally get that your anxious and scared I’ve got that feeling all over again but having been through it already I know I can do it again x and so can you! I was out of hospital last time after 6days and back to work after 11wks . Good luck and try not to worry too much it’s a routine operation these days :-)

markhig in reply to JJL15

Thank you JJL15.. so glad to read your positivity and encouragement. I’m with you for support as you are with me x

Welcome to planet OHS, Mark. I'm now 2 months post AVR with a bio valve so no rat poison , fear of green veg or placing my life in the hands of my unreliable local GP practice to sustain safe clotting levels. Though at 65, I will face a further valve replacement down the line.

All I can add to the previous posts is that AVR can virtually restore normal life expectancy, all other things being equal.So it's a good and positive thing.

For me, the anticipated pain and discomfort was far less than I imagined and effectively managed with paracetamol in the weeks after surgery. Finally, do commit to any post-op laxatives you are offered and maybe supplement with prunes figs etc. Things slow down drastically immediately after surgery due to opiates. Hopefully you will dodge any disruption. Hospital discharge, no earlier than day five, is conditional on resumption of bowel movement!

My perspective was that knowledge empowers you, so do the research and prepare for your consultations. It helped me cope enormously.

Good luck!

markhig in reply to IanGordon

Thank you Ian. Hope you continue to do well.. I seem to be reading everything I can which has certainly helped me accept this and not continuing to face tests and procedures i have no idea about

Thank you Serg. Looks like mechanical makes sense for me at this stage unless they find a way to repair whilst in surgery. Tbh the focus on diet etc afterwards sounds like the continued path once I get the other side of this

Hello some good words of wisdom, i to am having AVR after 4years of monitoring, now its time to fix the issue when i was first told that i need the surgery although i knew it was coming i found it hard to deal with. i have since got my head in the right place lost some weight eating better not eating any junk and really being fit for surgery with out over doing it.

i feel better now than i did in feb because of all of that. so in my view well worth making those life changes.

i am trying for the longterm bio valve "edawards INSPIRIS RESILIA Aortic Valve"

i would not want to be on warfarin for life i am 48 and on other meds

its is a lot to deal with but others can do it so can we

keep smiling


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