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Treatment

Heart valve disease is a very treatable condition if patients suffering from symptoms such as breathlessness, tight chest and dizziness are diagnosed early. So it is important that if you have any of the symptoms or are over 65 years, you ask your GP for a quick stethoscope check. With treatment, people can return to a good quality of life with their friends and family.

Treatment for heart valve disease varies according to how severe the disease, but ultimately the effective ways of overcoming the disease are valve repair or replacement. Great progress has been made recently in less invasive procedures.

A diseased valve can either be repaired or replaced by a surgical procedure which has been proven to be very successful over many decades. More recently, a less invasive procedure called TAVI has become available for those who are considered to be at too high-risk for surgery. Your doctor will be able to advise which is the most appropriate in your case.

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Surgical Valve Repair and Replacement

Heart valve surgery has proven to be a very successful method of valve repair or replacement for more than 50 years. The diseased valve may be repaired using a ring to support the damaged valve. This method is more often used for the mitral or tricuspid valves.

Alternatively, the entire valve may be removed and replaced. This procedure can last a few hours. Patients usually remain in hospital for a few weeks and recovery can take around three months. The replacement valve can be either mechanical or made of animal tissue.

There are pros and cons of each type depending on your age and lifestyle. You should discuss with your physicians which valve is most appropriate for you.

Transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI)

Transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) is a less invasive approach which allows the replacement aortic valve to be inserted via a catheter usually through a small incision in the groin. The valve is positioned in place either through a balloon-inflation or self-expanding method.

TAVI is suitable for patients who are considered inoperable or at higher risk for valve surgery.

The procedure typically lasts up to one hour, and patients are up and walking 24 - 48 hours after the procedure. The typical hospital stay is 3 to 5 days. Because the replacement valve is placed using minimally invasive techniques, patients usually experience a much more rapid recovery than from surgical valve replacement.

For further information on heart valve disease, please see our Heart valve disease fact sheet here.

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