aortic valve re-replacement - British Heart Fou...

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aortic valve re-replacement


my wonderful wife is going into st Georges on Wednesday for an aortic valve replacement can anybody put our minds at rest as were both at our wits end with worry

32 Replies

Sorry to hear that ,but my husband had aortic valve replaced on 28th march,he was already extremely ill with an infection of the heart that damaged the valve. He was 2 days away from death .the operation went extremely well ,although because he was so ill when having operation they left him on a ventelator for 4 days .he spent 5 days in critical care ,then another 3 weeks on a ward on intravenous antibiotics ,he has done remarkably well and getting stronger every day .doing little jobs around the house and walking a little each day ,he is 72 a diabetic with leukemeia .he owes his life to the skill of the surgeon and the wonderful care the nurses in critical care gave him .i wish you and your wife all the luck in the world for Wednesday ,just trust in the brilliant skills and knowledge of the NHS ,and do let us know how she is progressing ,best wishes Jan

Hi MrsAA. Welcome to the forum! I had an AVR at St Thomas' in December and, although it is a big operation, it really is a very straightforward one these days for the surgical teams - almost bread and butter for them, even if a big deal of course for us!

If you haven't had similar yet from St George's I found these leaflets useful

But essentially I was in and out in a week, though I was lucky in that I had no complications beyond some temperature spiking that needed a short course of antibiotics. I was in intensive care for one night, then moved to the high dependency unit the next night and then back on to the ward that evening (and walked from the HDU down to the ward, though it was hard work).

They try and get you up and moving pretty quickly (they'll want the bed back!) and so she'll probably be encouraged to sit up, in her chair, to do some gentle walking, try out some stairs etc (only once back on the ward of course). There will be tubes in her neck and a drain in her stomach, but these will come out relatively quickly (the drain first, then the neck tubes - in my case just before leaving the HDU). There will be pacer lines to monitor the heart and she will have a box to carry round to help with the electrics if the heart is erratic on restarting at first (which can happen) - in my case mine was taken away very quickly but others did have theirs for some days.

When I came home, yes, I was tired and sore but I was much more "able" than I had expected I would be (I was 50, now 51). I could go up and downstairs myself, dress and shower myself, make myself a plate of food etc. Oh yes, it may not be the same for everyone but in my case when the dressings came off the scar was left to heal in the open air, so no wound management, and I was very pleasantly surprised to be told there was no need for support stockings.

Her recovery will probably depend on age, fitness, general underlying health and any complications. As I say, I was lucky in that everything was very straightforward and now, six months on, I feel completely recovered physically (in fact fitter and healthier than pre-op).

What else? She will tire easily - I was in a fog of tiredness for about the first six weeks, so you just have to roll with that. With pain, don't be "strong", take the painkillers! I went home with paracetamol and cocoadomol for emergencies, though only needed it once - in fact for me the pain overall was much less than I had feared; if anything the drain wound has been more irritating than the main sternum wound. I was on the paracetamol three times a day initially and then gradually reduced the dosage from there. If she's having a mechanical valve there will be Warfarin to manage/get used to, and you should hopefully be set up with a follow-up at your GP Warfarin clinic.

Some tips:

- Get her to practise now standing up and down without using her arms as you shouldn't push with your shoulders initially

- A small maternity wedge cushion is a good idea to protect the scar and provide support

- I also found a horseshoe-shaped cushion on the sofa helped with support for the first few weeks

- Ditto a rolled-up and tied small towel - my "towel of love" - as it will initially hurt to cough, sneeze or laugh and she may want to press it to the wound

- Front-closing clothes/nightware as she may find it hard to pull clothes over her head

- Ditto go for looseness and comfort

- She won't be able to lift anything heavier than half a kettle of water initially, so lots of ferrying required (and she may of course want to milk that for as long as possible!)

Having always thought I didn't have any symptoms of aortic stenosis I was astonished at how much better my heart function felt straightaway - sort of "oh so that's what everyone else feels like". And that - so far, touch wood - has continued. I by the way has a tissue Edwards Inspiris valve, just if it's helpful.

For me, too, the emotional and mental build-up and terror, panic, worry - so where you are now - was one of the hardest bits, almost harder than the actually operation. So I really do sympathise. But as I say, for the surgical teams these days these operations really are very straightforward. So good luck to both of you - as it will be a difficult and anxious time for you too - and hope you're both out the other end and she's on the mend before you know it. And keep using us hearties on this forum, as that's what we're all here for.

But more than happy to try and help if you have any specific questions. Feel free to DM me.

Fingers and everything else crossed for you. Nic x

MrsAA in reply to Nic25

thank you for your tips and advice Nic . im just hoping all goes well, she has just turned 70 but is fairly fit.

Nic25 in reply to MrsAA

Good luck to her. St George's is a good hospital (I was on their cardiology books for many years and my eldest daugher was born there) and so sure she'll be in good hands. It is as I say a very worrying time for both of you, but hopefully all will go well. It does your head in this stuff doesn't it! Nic x

MrsAA in reply to Nic25

Thank you for your time Nic,I'll give you some feedback after the operation,all the best

Hi i had one in 2015 the awkward part is choosing the valve.i choose mechanical which you can hear in bed on one side and take warferin otherwise animal does not last as long but it has been good regards john


Sorry I can't give you any re-assurance because I'm in the same boat myself. Have to go and see the Consultant on Wednesday about the same Op. I will try and remember that 'MrsAA' is going through this at the moment! I really do wish the two of you 'ALL' the best 😊

Nic25 in reply to Hidden

Good luck too for Wednesday! Nic x

Hidden in reply to Nic25

I messaged you Nic. Hope that is ok :)

Nic25 in reply to Hidden


Hi MrsAA

Nick gave you a perfect picture.

I am 43 and I had a mitral valve replacement

The only think I would add to what Nick said is trying to do your breathing exercises.

It does hurt to begin with but it can avoid so many complications later.

And when walking around the ward try to walk at a good pace.

This will also help to get rid of the excess of fluids accumulated during the surgery in your lungs

The lungs will be a key to how fast you recover, at least for my experience

I am saying all of the above as I learnt the hard way and 2 weeks after surgery i was re admitted for chest infection and pleural effusion and i had to have a drain installed to remove the fluids from my lungs....not a nice procedure.

Tell your wife to keep positive and that , despite some uncomfortable days, there is a light at the end of the tunnel and in no time she will feel so much better.

This forum is great and there are a lot of ppl willing to help and with great advices

Best wishes and keep us posted


seasider18 in reply to Rosanna75

.The post operative fluid on the lungs is quite common. I had to have it drained and had a tube attached to me for several days. As you say moving helps disperse but it was difficult for me as I was carrying the container for it around with me . In my case they had pumped 2 litres of potassium into me to stop my heart during the operation… it has to go somewhere afterwards.

Every one gained fluid. We all gained 6/10 kilos because of it. By the time I got home on day ten my weight was back to normal .

My husband is going into St Bartholomew's Hospital in London on the 17th. I have found the members on this forum very helpful. My husband has had no symptoms but the problem was picked up by his GP after a routine check-up. I am dreading looking after him, but have been reassured by the members of this forum. It's a really helpful place.

St Georges AVR ...july 2004 best thing I ever had done

Hello. I had my aortic valve replaced last year, along with other procedures, through open heart surgery and was back at work full time within 6 months.

On Wednesday last week I had my Mitral valve replaced via the groin and was home on Thursday evening! I am 64 and not really that fit (ex smoker with little fitness regime) . I am feeling a bit battered and bruised but hopefully it will be only a week or so before I am back to work.

My advice to you would be to consider your options. If your QOL is likely to be improved then you have to have it done! Good luck.

My sister in law is in St George's critical on life support at the moment, I believe she is having her aortic valve stretched today, the staff have been wonderful, so no problems there.

I wish you all the best, you will be in good hands. My friend had her aortic valve replaced in Sheffield, came home after five days and walked around the house at first, going up and down stairs, then a week after that went out walking, she is in wonderful health now.

Well it seems like you’ve already had lots of positive advice and support on this forum and I’d like to add to that! I am 68 and had aortic valve replacement at the end of March. I was back to doing most things within six weeks and now, 15 weeks on, am back to normal. Like you I was terrified but it was probably worse for my husband! For me I had more pain having my wisdom teeth out and the most challenging thing was trying to get back to eating properly after surgery. Yes, you are tired afterwards and will need to find things to do that don’t tax you too much. I took to doing jigsaw puzzles! It was a welcome change to watching tv all the time! You will experience hospital care like you have never known before - all staff are very expert and you will feel very well looked after. Believe me they don’t take any chances with your care. It is a scary time but you know you need this operation and in making that decision you are brave. You are about to become a member of a very exclusive club! You are doing well continuing to keep yourself fairly fit in preparation for your surgery, this will stand you in good stead when it comes to your recovery. Good luck and let us all know how you are doing.

If I get to the stage when I have to have MVR, St George’s is where I would opt for, it’s a great hospital!

Hidden in reply to MissP77

Watched that Hospital on Tele, it does look very good. I'm going to Cardiff, hope it's the same :)

Thinking of you guys and please let us know how she is doing!

All extremely helpful and kind posts here. Well done forum members!

Hi there. I said similar experience to Nic. AVR aged 48 3 months ago. The hardest part for me was the worry before the op and the decision as to which valve. I broke my ankle some years back and the recovery for that was worse/more painful. It really is a standard op for the amazing surgeons these days. I was out of hospital in 4 days and pretty mobile immediately. When I overdid it my body told me and I was in a bit of a tired ‘fug’ afterwards but nothing unmanageable. The pain was very manageable on paracetamol and worst pain was from drain scars. Only hiccup I had was some Atrial Fibrillation 3 weeks after but that was short lived and managed with meds. Everyone very different of course and no one would of course ever choose heart surgery but please reassure your wife that the road ahead is far less daunting than she thinks. Once recovered she’ll most likely feel a new woman. Big ❤️

Oh and one other thing, if Mrs AA can get in the swimming pool for a few lengths before her surgery, I think it will only do good. My surgeon, nurses and cardiologist all felt my quick recovery was due to swimming (great for breathing, calm and general fitness) and believe it is the best heart healthy exercise one can do in general. Either that or gentle long walks x

Had mine as an emergency on my 72nd birthday. 18 months now. Can honestly say it was not as bad as I expected. I believe it is worse for the partners and family.

After 3 months I was pretty good and walking my dog.

Take cardiac rehab if it is offered because it really helps.

I cant say I had a lot of pain afterwards but I spent 8 days on the ventilator.

May have been my age I don't know but that is u usual.

She will feel quite weak and wobbly for a couple of weeks.

I couldnt get comfy sitting without lots of cushions. Found a shower seat helped I initially.

I wont tell you not to worry because you will anyway but try to be positive in front of her.

My best wishes to you and her and look forward to things you will be able to do after the surgery

Just adding to what everyone else has said. Underwired bras are a no no.

Also I had difficulty fastening them. Found the best type pull on ones the best answer

One other thing that I found really helpful (although I didn’t have a replacement valve, I did have open heart surgery with the full zip incision) was a free standing frame with raised toilet seat. I didn’t realise that I would need one until I came home and it’s better than asking for help to get off the toilet ☺️

All will be fine, it is a big op but it really is a common op now. I am coming up to 2.5years post op from avr and root replacement. She will feel like she has been run over by a bus that 1st week then things will get noticeably better after that. All the best ❤️

Great advise & insight into what happens & how you feel afterwards - the fear before was worst than any recovery although it’s slow l was just glad to be alive ! But as most have said it’s just a routine operation for the surgeons ( years ago I’m talking 30yrs it was almost a death sentence when they mentioned ‘open heart surgery’ & that was where my fear came from but FEAR NOT (easy said) just focus on doing everything after the op that they tell you - can’t stress that enough because they ALL know what they are talking about! God bless the NHS & Best wishes xx

Hope all goes well today and that MrsAA soon recovers. X

My Wife was all ready to have her aortic valve replacement at St George's in Tooting when the surgeon came to see her after their morning brief to say she didn't need the operation for two to three years, after all the stress we have been through I don't what to think now, we have to go back to st peters in Chertsey for yearly checks so I suppose they will call her again when it gets worse.

Nic25 in reply to MrsAA

Oh, er, wow! Sort of bad as you got all geared up and now this, but good that surgery is no longer needed immediately. Feel for you. It's bad it got to that point but as I say good I guess at one level that you do now have some clarity. But also, as per before, this stuff - this "process" - so does your head in doesn't it. Hope you both manage to hunker back down, focus on each other and move forward. Good luck to you both of you and hope things go ok. Nic x

MrsAA in reply to Nic25

Hi Nic25, every body at the hospital was so nice to my Wife and kind and put her at ease so when she is called again she knows what to expect and the night she spent there has taken the terror away , thank you for your time, your information was very helpful and we'll wishes.Terry/Val

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