What is Heart Valve Replacement?
If someone has a heart valve condition that is severe enough that the heart begins to deteriorate despite medication, she may need to have her valve repair or replaced. Valve replacement consists of implanting a new heart valve in place of the one that does not function properly. This typically requires open heart surgery, although there are newer procedures that for select patients allow for a heart valve to be replaced using catheters.
Sometimes when a surgeon is performing a heart valve procedure, she discovers that it is possible to repair the heart valve and does not have to replace it. If possible the preference is to repair a heart valve rather than replace it.
In many cases, however it can be easier and better for the patient to have an artificial heart valve put in place of the diseased one. Artificial heart valves have been in use for many, many years and are generally well tolerated by those who receive them.