Heart valve replacement. : Hi everyone... - British Heart Fou...

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Heart valve replacement.

GardeningFlowers profile image
34 Replies

Hi everyone. Hope you are all OK. I have been told today that I need open heart surgery to replace a leaky heart valve. I am sending myself round the bend as I am scared stiff at the thought of this surgery. Any help or advice you can give me would be greatly appreciated. If anyone has had this done and can give me any information on their experience and thoughts on this. I am seeking anything to help me with this process and even the negative things. I am looking forward to hearing from anyone as I am one of those people by nature who always wants to know what is going to happen and all the good and bad things about it. Thanks everyone 😊

34 Replies
ChoochSiesta profile image
ChoochSiesta

When I was told last October that I needed a heart bypass, it was like being hit with a sledgehammer. It took a few weeks to accept it. But, it had to be done. Trust the doctors and nurses, they have the difficult job of actually doing the work.

BeKind28 profile image
BeKind28

Hello :-)

A lovely picture makes me wish I was by the sea :-)

I had a triple Bypass and as everyone is I was shocked when I was told I needed one

I am the opposite I just want to know the good bits and not the bad as I can focus on the bad rather than the good

I think though even though it was not a valve replacement I had the op and how they get to the heart is the same

I was petrified yet it was not as bad as I thought and that is saying something coming from a worrier

If you do need one they will look after you so well and the positive is that they have or suspect you might need this done and found it before it caused any more problems

I am sure those that can give you more information that have had it done will reply when they see your post :-) x

Chappychap profile image
Chappychap

You're right to take this seriously, even though open heart surgery is a "routine" procedure it still involves a level of risk and the virtual guarantee of a few uncomfortable weeks recovering from what is a major operation.

The key risk factor for open heart surgery is age, and at 59 you're significantly younger (I seem to recall that the average patient is late 60's or early 70's). This means your risk is lower and your prospects for a full and swift recovery are higher. These are solid facts that should give you real comfort, life is a numbers game but in this case the numbers are firmly on your side!

Good luck!

Shar28 profile image
Shar28

Hello, my husband had his leaky and narrowed Aortic valve 4 years ago replaced with a mechanical one. Getting a phone call out of the blue to say he needed the surgery was such a shock, for both of us. My husband struggled with the anxiety and spoke to his GP who prescribed some meds to help him cope. When we saw the surgeon my husband explained his anxiety to him too and was reassured he’d be well looked after, not just physically but mentally too and that it’s very common. And he was well looked after. The hospital gave him some meds to help him sleep upon admission the day before and then again before surgery to relax.

So, please ask your GP and the hospital team for help when you go in.

Best wishes to you and your loved ones.

Blackcatsooty profile image
Blackcatsooty

Dear GardeningFlowers

I believe you read my posting, explaining some of the procedures for OHS and a replaced valve.

Please be aware that by far the worst bit is the awaiting of the unknown.

The time in hospital is probably the least traumatic of hospital stays. The rehab is many months and some discomfort is encountered, but the great thing is the recovery gets better every day.

You will be in the hands of true experts.

There are three preliminary tests which may require you to attend outpatients. This is usually before you go to the cardiac ward. I had these three tests as an inpatient which is a better option but unlikely to be available to you.

Please try to do some relaxation to calm down.

You will be given massive anaesthetic for your op so you won’t know a thing about it.

You will be tended by highly trained and brilliant staff.

I have nice memories of the op. Actually nice memories.

Best wishes

Colin

CWQ1 profile image
CWQ1

Hi. I had exactly the same operation 12 years ago. I found out at the grand old age of 48 that I’d had a deformed aortic valve since birth and it was calcifying. I was very scared, wrote love letters to my children, planned my funeral, the lot. What I didn’t allow for is that I would feel so much better afterwards. I didn’t realise I had been compensating for the shortness of breath and general tiredness for such a long time, just putting it down to getting old.

I found the recovery quick - day 1, operation, day 2, out of bed, day 3 stairs, then a couple more days in hospital and I was home.

One thing I didn’t think about long enough was my choice of valve (animal vs metal) as both have consequences. I went metal and don’t regret it, but that brings a life-long dependence on blood thinners.

It is definitely a watershed moment in your life and I still send a silent message of thanks to my surgeon every day …

CWQ1

Leonardo1 profile image
Leonardo1

Hi there I had a valve replacement in December - yes it’s scary but quite frankly you don’t know anything about the surgery - once you are under . There’s a lot of tests and build up which takes time before the actual surgery and the week post surgery is a bit of a car crash. But recovery is good ! 3 months on I’m back to work feeling stronger and fitter than I have in quite a long while !! Like you I was really scared I’d never had surgery never been in hospital !! Had my children at home !! So it was a shock and a whole big thing in my head I wasn’t a sick person !! But now it’s behind me a few tweaks medication wise and a bit of post op monitoring but life is so good !! I ran up a flight of stairs yesterday where previously I could get up 3 then be exhausted!!

A lovely lady on this site said they do more heart surgery than tooth extraction nowadays !!! It’s not a common thing but it is a routine thing These people are brilliant incredible and highly trained - I am in awe of their skill and brilliance - my team made me cry and I well up just thinking about what a life changer they did for me .

It’s wise to be scared but be optimistic too you will recover and that is wonderful and you will be a newer perkier sparkier and more fantastic you when it’s all over !!! Good luck and remember

The beat goes on !!!! CH

Wizard_of_Oz profile image
Wizard_of_Oz

I completely agree with all the comments below - brilliant staff, routine operation etc, BUT as I said to my consultant “it is not routine for me!” I am 55yr man and had a bicuspid aortic valve replaced 3 weeks ago. My worry was getting the surgery performed BEFORE my heart started to deteriorate. You are young for this procedure, which helps. Ask for 2 surgeons opinions before proceding - I got slightly different approaches proposed, and pick the surgeon you feel comfortable with. Do your homework on type of valve you want. You need it doing so focus on the WHAT you are choosing not the WHY is this happening. Sadly this is a common op so you are far from alone. The surgery is truly a breeze and afterwards there is discomfort, but you have painkillers so manageable. You will be fine.

Velena profile image
Velena

I discovered in 2015 (only because I went for a routine cardiology check-up which my private health insurance offered as an option, I didn't have any symptoms) that I had a leaking mitral valve which was already at the moderate/severe stage and would require surgery at some time in the future. The cardiologists monitored me for a further 3.5 years so I had time to get used to the idea of surgery. Throughout that time I had many ECGs and echocardiograms, also a Holter echo which is worn for 24 hours. After they said the time for surgery had arrived I also had a trans-esophageal echocardiogram which I was dreading but they gave me a short duration general anaesthetic and I didn't know a thing about it. I had my surgery done in a private hospital here in Spain. Beforehand the surgeon said he was optimistic that he would be able to repair my own mitral valve by fitting an Edwards ring in the valve opening, which is a better outcome than a replacement because it lasts longer and eliminates the need to be on blood thinners afterwards. However he couldn't guarantee that 100% so I had to give consent for the valve to be replaced instead should that prove necessary and he explained very carefully the pros and cons of a mechanical vs a biological valve. As it turned out he was able to repair my own valve. Unfortunately I was unlucky in that my heart rate would not settle down after the operation and I had to stay in the ICU for 8 days post surgery instead of the usual 24-48 hours. I was cared for wonderfully well but it was not very pleasant. I am sure that is very rare. The Head of ICU and the cardiologist wanted me to have a pacemaker fitted but the Head of Cardiovascular Surgery and my own cardiac surgeon said no, give it time and it will normalise, and turned out they were right, but it was rather disconcerting to be argued over! Once I got transferred to a normal room I was able to mobilise and that was much better, I only had to stay there 2 more days before I was allowed to go home, once they were satisfied that I could climb a flight of stairs. The surgeon had warned me that I would feel very weak afterwards and I don't think I really appreciated how weak. I hadn't had any symptoms before the operation, was still doing strenuous exercise right up to the day before, and I felt about a million times worse afterwards. I had surprisingly little pain in my sternum at any time, but did have a lot of pain in my shoulders and back and that didn't go away until I was allowed to start swimming again which was 3 months after the surgery. I was able to walk a little further each day but told not to lift anything heavy or do anything but the lightest housework. As I said, after 3 months I was able to swim again which was great as I felt much more like myself, and after 6 months I was able to go back to the gym and start exercising again. Everybody's recovery will be different though, just be guided by your doctors and nurses and don't try to do too much. Good luck with your surgery, you will be in good hands.

Becksagogo profile image
Becksagogo

The only advice I can give you is to listen to the advice given to you! If you are told no housework for 6 weeks then it means no housework for 6 weeks, not 5 or if you feel like it. The operation will be a breeze. The surgeon and his/her staff know exactly what they are doing and you will get the best possible care. God bless our NHS.

When you get home is when the trouble starts and you start doing things you shouldn't be doing. There are self help leaflets on this site but little things like clothes with buttons down the front and moving everything that you may need, especially in the kitchen, down to a height that is easy for you to grab rather than reach up.

I speak from experience as I tried to open a very heavy fire door and pulled at my wound site, rather than call for help.

I hope all goes well for you.

Anon2023 profile image
Anon2023

Hi. I’ve had two mitral valve replacements in 6 months. I was absolutely terrified before and the waiting was awful. The surgery itself was ok and I was surprised that after a couple of days I was out of bed and doing physio. I was also surprised that it wasn’t as painful as I’d feared. Obviously there is some discomfort but ask for pain relief and you’ll get it. In my experience you have to ask or they assume you are ok. There’s no point in suffering if you don’t have to. I’m 50 but there were much older patients who did really well. I was amazed how quickly they appeared to bounce back. I think the trick is to be as mobile as you can be afterwards and accept all help that is offered. In terms of practical tips I took my own pillow in with me as the hospital ones were rubber and sweaty. I also had button front pjs and soft non wired front fastening bras. Take lip salve and moisturiser as you can get a bit dehydrated. If you need to know anything else please just ask.

Dumptydee profile image
Dumptydee

I had two valves replaced together with two bypasses a year ago at the age of 78. It’s fine. It just takes time to recover . There is no need to worry. It’s such a common procedure these days and the new valves work well.You can do it

AdamJames157 profile image
AdamJames157

I hope you’re well and I know you will have an enormous amount of doubt, fear and anxiety.

I was recently diagnosed with a very severe leaking aortic valve and I’m waiting to be referred to a cardiac surgeon. I’m 32 years old and to say I was shocked to be told this is an understatement.

I couldn’t believe it and it has taken me several weeks just to accept it. It’s very hard.

I can’t speak for the surgery as I’ve not been through it yet, however I’m sending my very best wishes to you and your loved ones as it’s hard on everyone.

GardeningFlowers profile image
GardeningFlowers in reply to AdamJames157

Hi. Thanks for your reply. Yes I am feeling all sorts of emotions at the moment. But honestly this site is really helping me. So many nice supportive people. I am just asking all sorts of things. I think it is being left waiting to deal with the information that a doctor gave me. Now waiting for the appointment where the discussion takes place about operation. I have been for the cardiovascular breathing test this morning. So I came out and just thought okay thats 1 thing out of the way. Next thing I think is angiogram and I am going to ask for the light sedation just to make sure that I stay on the table😁I am going to try anything just to help myself. Will still ask about minimal invasive surgery though. Have been reading up on it. I will keep posting on here. I hope you are okay and it looks like this is the way everyone feels beforehand. I thought it was just me. Take comfort from this. Hopefully we can keep supporting each other. Thank you and take care.

AdamJames157 profile image
AdamJames157 in reply to GardeningFlowers

How you getting on?

Hope all is well with you. I’m still waiting on speaking with a surgeon although I’ve been told not to worry despite some discomfort in chest and back, as well as struggling to sleep. Can hear my AR and feel my heart beat so difficult to switch off.

peterosgood profile image
peterosgood

I had my aortic valve and aorta replaced December 2020.

I had no symptoms until August that year, finally diagnosed in November so a real shock, I was 55 and fit and healthy having played sport all my life.

It is scary but your team will look after you and explain everything. After surgery the care is fantastic and they will get you walking quickly and work on your discharge.

I would recommend purchasing a V shaped pillow, great for sitting and sleeping.

I kept a diary of how I felt each day, how I coped but more specifically anything positive, even making my first cup of tea. I still use the diary to look back at where I was and where I am.

Yo you will experience pain, my main one was Bethe nerves repairing, reall to painful but your GP can recommend medication to help.

It's a slow process recovering by to your rehab team are there to help and advise, just b we careful not to push yourself to hard.

You will hav we good and bad days but the good days start to outweigh the bad. It took me about 4 months to start feeling like me again but in 6 months I returned to work, I work for a landscape gardener so physical work.

So I'm just over 13months since my operation, I'm working 4 days a week and feeling so much more myself. It's not perfect, I still get aches and pains but I just get on with it.

So good luck with everything, it's daunting, it's scary but you will be looked after and recover so keep us all posted and don't be afraid to ask any questions, there is always somebody on here to give you advice and help.

Classof1988 profile image
Classof1988

Hi, I can only speak from my personal experience but the most important advice is "try not to worry". I was in my early 30s when my aortic valve was replaced; it was damaged by a teenage attack of rheumatic fever but I always believed that valve replacement was only a possibility much later in life. It was a bit scary at first but I quickly thought of the valve as a replacement part, much like taking my car to have a new clutch or hose fitted. I was feeling ok beforehand but the idea was to replace the damaged valve before it gave problems. I was having annual ecgs and echocardiograms so I knew these well as painless routine procedures. I had to have measurements taken which involved a technician inserting a j tube through a cut in my arm and through the vascular system to get to the heart - the only sensation was a mild scratching and the biggest frustration was lying on my side where I could not see the screen showing inside (plus amusement when the technician took a wrong turning and got lost!). The arm quickly healed and I was only in for two nights because the procedure was delayed until 1700.The actual surgery was painless, one of my two days in ICU was a bit rough but that was due to a little complication unrelated to the surgery which won't be relevant to you, and I actually got told off gently for making other people tired because I had so much energy! Even removing the stitches about four weeks later only created a very mild scratching feeling. I have been on Warfarin for well over 30 years now with no side effects, so a mechanical valve is probably the best option as you are still young - my valve celebrated its 34th birthday this month, and I believe there is someone on the site whose valve is almost 50!

No two people are the same, but the medical staff have even more experience and expertise than they had in my time. Relax, mentally prepare as you would for taking your car for surgery in a garage, and if you have faith in God ask Him to give you more of His peace - if you don't know Him, then ask Him to help you through this. Really hope this reassures you so you can face this without fear. Be blessed

TMeditation profile image
TMeditation

I had my aortic valve replaced 3 years ago. It was such a shock as I’d always tried to maintain a healthy lifestyle. I was 67 and chose an Edwards Inspiris rather than a mechanical valve. I must confess I was very much guided by my surgeon in my decision making. I think having medical staff you are confident in is very important. I would take along a list of everything that concerned me and wrote down everything he said. It’s possible to be so overcome in these situations that you hardly remember anything!What you should know is once on your way to having your surgery you will realise all the staff you meet are highly skilled in what they do. You will feel very well looked after and your every need catered for.

Just take things step by step and soon you will be in control of your situation and able to make considered decisions.

I didn’t discover this forum until a few months after my op and I wish I’d found it before. There are lots of people who have been through/are going through exactly what you are right now. They all want to help and you should take advantage of all the expertise that is available to you here.

Take care and take it easy. This is just another one of life’s challenges you are being asked to deal with. They come at us in every shape and size and whilst this one seems scary right now it’s nothing you can’t handle. It’s just life.

Love Sue 🙏

Rhinos67 profile image
Rhinos67

Hi GardeningFlowers

It's an awful shock when you are told that you need Open Heart Surgery isn't it? I'm waiting for surgery but am home the home straight now, just waiting for a date.

I've gone through every emotion and can't pretend I'm not scared, but I've listened to advice and others experiences and that has reassured me.

I also joined a Facebook Group.. UK Aortic & Heart Defects and the other members have so much advice to give, practical and emotional. We have a fortnightly zoom chat, the next is this Friday at 7pm, so if you decide to join, it would lovely to see you.

Good luck and stay well

Joanne

😊

GardeningFlowers profile image
GardeningFlowers

Hi. Thanks for the reply. I seem to be getting so much feedback and reassurance from this site. You are all such nice people. One day I thi nk I am coping OK but then I feel like I am in a tail spin in mid air. So much in my head. Its awful isn't it. Feeling a bit sick of thinking about this. I don't want to stress my family out with my fears but then I think why aren't they seeing me having a bad time😞wish it was all done with. Thanks for the invite and the info. So kind. Are you going into the LGI.

Rhinos67 profile image
Rhinos67 in reply to GardeningFlowers

Hi and yes the emotional roller-coaster is a ride that I'm on most days.I don't think that anyone who isn't going through this really understands what it's like. My anxiety has been through the roof and I've had the lowest of lows too.

So many people have said"you'll be fine" & *stop worrying about things that are out of your control" when I was waiting for a 2nd urgent CT scan which took 9 weeks.

Yes I'm under the care of LGI. Having weekly Clinical Psychology appointments, which have helped massively as I have a phobia of hospitals, so all of this is my worst nightmare. The team around me have been amazing and my CP is liaising with everyone on my behalf to make things as stress free as possible.

Whereabouts are you?

Joanne.

GardeningFlowers profile image
GardeningFlowers in reply to Rhinos67

Hi. I am in Leeds West Yorkshire. I am under the LGI. I am the same as you. Absolutely terrified. I feel like I have been left in limbo. Just waiting around now. ☹️

Rhinos67 profile image
Rhinos67 in reply to GardeningFlowers

Hi Gardening flowers

If you are to join the Facebook group then please do. But get support wherever you can.

When were you diagnosed? Who is your consultant?

Joanne

GardeningFlowers profile image
GardeningFlowers in reply to Rhinos67

Hi there. I was told by the technician when he did my echo cardiogram. It must be about 4 weeks ago now and I had my ecg about 2 weeks ago and 10 minutes with a doctor who told me open heart surgery and that I would be passed on to cardiologist but still waiting. Had breathing test this week.

Rhinos67 profile image
Rhinos67 in reply to GardeningFlowers

Sounds like a very similar schedule to me. I was diagnosed in October but didn't have an appointment with the Consultant until mid January. Then a second urgent CT scan took 9 weeks and I hit a real low. He gave me contact details for my valve nurse though and she has been my go to for queries and concerns. I'm not going to say don't worry, but if you are able to join the Facebook group and Zoom meeting tonight you will see and speak to lots of people who are on the other side of surgery and look amazing, very reassuring.

Joanne

marigoldb profile image
marigoldb

Hi Gardening Flowers, I had my aortic valve replaced and a single coronary bypass by open heart surgery at the Grand age of 83 that was in 2019!They had been monitoring it for several years, and the time was right then.

So a bit of a bumpy ride afterwards, as had a wound infection, but I have to say immediately the breathlessness I had had, gone!

Before, walking upstairs I was so breathless I had to lie on my bed for a few moments!

I do think the shock of the impending op, is hard, and there are so many questions you want answered. Which part of the country are you in?

I’m in Sussex, and had my op at Harefield Hospital, part of the Royal

Brompton.

Sending best wishes, and remember these amazing surgeons do these ops day by day,

I’m so grateful that I have a mended heart. I’m off with my son and daughter for a week in the sun mid June at a lovely hotel in Santo Tomas in Menorca!

GardeningFlowers profile image
GardeningFlowers in reply to marigoldb

Hi there. Thank you for your reply. Glad to hear you're well. I am in Yorkshire and under Leeds General infirmary. I have no idea about the success rate in the hospital but the one you went to seems to have a good success with cardiology.

Cornishbeach profile image
Cornishbeach

Hi Gardening FlowersI had a mitral valve repair nearly 5 weeks ago now. Check out my other posts as I put a lot of info on there.

I can honestly say although it's the most scary thing I have ever faced I have made a great recovery and so glad I got it done now and not waited until things got worse. I am grateful everyday for getting through the system reasonably quickly.

I'm now doing most every day tasks just watching what I lift (not the grandchildren yet sadly). You get better each day and feel better each day. I'm now walking more than I could ever do before the op!

Best wishes - you will be fine. Please message if you want more information.

GardeningFlowers profile image
GardeningFlowers in reply to Cornishbeach

Hi. Thanks so much for your help and I wondered if you could tell me if you wake up with the ventilator still in you. So happy to hear you are okay.

Cornishbeach profile image
Cornishbeach in reply to GardeningFlowers

Hi, I didnt wake up for 17 hours! The last thing I remember was the anaesthetist saying I've given you Midazolam, I looked at the clock - it was 13.10. Next thing I knew was I was asked if I wanted to get out of bed at 6am the next morning. (Which I did surprisingly well, with help). Best sleep I have had for years. Didn't know anything about the tube coming out although the doctor told me I did respond at the time - I just can't remember it!

Cornishbeach profile image
Cornishbeach in reply to GardeningFlowers

One thing I will say is bend your knees up in bed when you are trying to sit up or lie down. It really helps with the discomfort in your chest when getting into bed especially. I found it painful to lie flat without doing that. If you usually wear a supportive bra then get some sleep bras that you can step into and pull up. I found some in Asda. I found even the front fastening bras uncomfortable as they sat where the drains are. I went back to wearing a non wired bra at about week 2 post op once the wounds had healed a bit more and still wear the sleep ones to bed now. It all depends how big you are in that area but everything is a bit heavy and swollen for a bit. Drink plenty of water and take all the painkillers offered! I was walking the length of the ward and corridor on day 3 and home day 6. It’s a lot of mind over matter but you will feel better every day. I only take paracetamol at night now. No question is silly so please ask if there is anything else we can help with. This forum is /was great for me.

Crackerchops profile image
Crackerchops

Hi, I had aorta valve replaced four weeks ago and the wait and anxiety was the worst for me. Your mind takes over and it is hard to filter these out. Coming out of it all now and the first few days was difficult and there is discomfort around the chest and it is difficult to move around the bed. The care team were great at getting me comfy on the bed and encouraged me to sit in the chair. Sitting in the chair was such a relief and made me feel a-lot more relaxed. The pain relief I was given was oral morphine, codine, paracetamol and a nerve blocker. By day five I asked for a reduction in the pain relief and just had the morphine at night and codine with paracetamol when needed.

When you go for the op the staff are very good at keeping things light and explain what is going to happen without going into too much detail. I was in the prep room first where a canular was fitted and various leads placed on my body for the hear trace, which I'm sure you would have had many times before. I saw the mask coming towards me and that was it I was out. The next thing I remember was waking up with my partner next to me holding my hand. I was not in any pain and a nurse was next to me explaining what had happened and I was doing well. I had only lost one day when I was in recovery in ICU, this is normal and the time in there depends on how well you wake up. I don't remember anything of the ICU.

After the op they will encourage you to do breathing exercises and coughing. This will hurt and is best done sitting up with a pillow or cousin held across your chest. This will get easier day by day. The physio will see you and get you out walking and trying stairs. Also the care team will monitor you with showering. All this to get you home to be supported by your support group. Do take things easy and walk as much as you want. Do not push it as you will soon get out of breath, I would suggest taking a pillow to the hospital to use.

I was very anxious and this is ok as it shows we are aware of what is happening. After the op and a couple of days you will be sore but not as sore as been at the dentist having a tooth out. Just take your time listen to your body, sleep when you need too and don't fight the sleep as it is all part of the healing.

Good luck and quick recovery.

UnderMilkWood profile image
UnderMilkWood

Hi

Welcome to the club no one wants to join!

Since you were given this news most of us on here know how devastated you feel.

It is scary and it’s so difficult to comprehend what’s happening to you mentally and physically.

The first thing I did is what you have done. Come here!

There is a lot of information about the procedure but there is also help on how to focus on what you can do to help yourself. After the surgery there are do’s and don’t’s which have to be taken seriously. The main one is that you don’t raise your arms above your head or push or pull anything until your sternum heals. That’s a few weeks.

What I focused on pre surgery was getting my house sorted for post surgery. Read my older posts and advice on what to do from the lovely Hearties ❤️ on here. It focuses the mind and it’s also makes it easier for you afterwards.

The list was endless but start with bringing everything you use on a daily basis down to shoulder level. Coffee/Tea making items from that high cupboard. (BTW kettle must only be half full as it will get too heavy to lift) .

I had my surgery in January 2021 when I was 67. Before then I was “fit and healthy “ so I thought. So it’s a shock. Someone suggested a shower stool. I was 😯 “ I’m not that old”. !! It’s the best thing I bought. Only used it for a few weeks but relaxing in the shower having water cascading over my body was sheer bliss. The legs do get a bit shaky immediately afterwards so sitting down to shower is a brilliant idea.

I’m now very well indeed. Yesterday I walked 10 miles with on a coastal path with not a twinge of my old self appearing. My new valve and the new me are doing great.

Keep thinking of the positives.Good luck and let us know how you get on.

Regards

Maisie

HenningLob profile image
HenningLob

Hi Gardening Flowers. It is of course a shock to be told that you need open heart surgery and I do understand the anxiety you feel. My husband had open heart surgery three years ago at age 56. He had his 57th birthday while in the Heart Institute and they even brought him a cake! His op went well and he returned to his previous fitness. As you sound like you would like to hear about any issues involved I will tell you the things that I think are worth giving thought to from my husband's experience. Firstly I would give strong and informed consideration to whether to have a tissue or mechanical valve. My husband had to have OHS because he had an enlarged aorta and prior to the op we gave only brief thought to the fact that he might also need his valve replacing. My husband was essentially advised to have a mechanical valve because of his age ie he was still young and would need a valve that could potentially last many years. It turned out during the op that he did need a new valve and so he received a mechanical valve and is now as a result on lifelong warfarin. Overall he does not find the warfarin a problem even though he frequently goes out of range and so has to go to the surgery to get his bloods checked and then adapts his warfarin accordingly.. In my husband's case the mechanical valve has been and still is troublesome to him but I would stress that I think he is unusual in this. So my husband finds that the valve does not tick like many people say but he feels it as a strong and invasive thudding that he finds very hard to get used to. He has had CBT to try to learn to accept his new valve but unfortunately this has not really helped him. Like I say from this site and from other research I think the vast majority of people do not find the sensation or noise from their mechanical valve problematical and some even find the ticking they hear comforting! The other thing we learnt from experience is to be realistic about recovery expectations. We just did not realise how OHS really does take it out of you and it takes time to recover . In my husband's case he was fit and well before the op and before the op had experienced no symptoms whatsover due to having a faulty aorta. I think therefore it was a shock to him to find out that after the op he suddnely felt a whole lot worse! I notice that someone else responded to you saying this too. My husband felt frustrated not being able to walk very far for a few weeks and what made this worse is that we were not really aware that this is perfectly normal. What we learnt was one should think of the recovery as a marathon not a sprint. I must highlight that my husband was so well looked after in the Heart Institute and all the staff were so helpful and attentive. In summary hard as it is, please try not to worry too much and keep reminding yourself that the medical staff are professionals who know what they are doing. In my husband's case the actual op went very well and he returned to good fitness. The downside for him is to now have to live with a mechanical valve which bothers him but I think most people do not find it a bother. I hope I have not come across as too negative I just wanted you to be aware so that you can make informed choices. Good luck!

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