What is valvular disease?
There are four valves in your heart which act like one way-doors. They let blood in and out of the chambers each time the heart beats. These valves can be damaged or scarred by birth defects, rheumatic fever or infection. When these heart valves do not open or close as they should the heart has to pump harder to get blood to the body. This can weaken the heart and cause pain, shortness of breath, dizziness or other feelings, such as fatigue and tiredness. In some cases it may be possible to repair or reconstruct the damaged valve. In such cases Warfarin* is required for a three month period. When it is not possible to repair or reconstruct the damaged valve, a tissue or mechanical valve may be used. Your surgeon will advise which valve you need.
Types of valves available
Tissue valve comes from humans or pigs.
Mechanical valve is made of metal or plastic. With this type of valve you will be required to take Warfarin for life.
*Warfarin is a tablet which allows the blood to flow freely through the new valve. It is extremely important to read the Warfarin Information Booklet that you will receive before you leave hospital.
Other heart surgery
Septal defects (“Hole-in-the-heart”) Sometimes at birth, the wall that divides the heart’s upper or lower chambers does not close completely. This leaves a hole that may need to be repaired usually in childhood but sometimes as an adult. Some of the problems associated with a “hole in the heart” include:
- Chest infections
- Shortness of breath
- Irregular heart beats
The “hole” is either sewn together or patched during surgery.