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Abrajam2020, June 25,  2020  4:50pm EST

Mitral Valve Replacement

I am 62 years old. A little over three years ago I had mitral valve repair. I just learned I need to have another open heart surgery and it's scheduled for July 6, 2020. 
The reason for the second surgery is a different cord/leaflet in my mitral valve tore this time. The original repair is still intact.

The surgeon said it is now time to replace the mitral valve. He suggested replacement with a mechanical valve.

i'm eager to hear thoughts from anyone that has had a mitral valve replaced with a mechanical valve.
How are they feeling? What adjustments did they make in their lifestyle post surgery? What is it like to be on blood thinners the rest your life? How long is the mechanical valve, etc. ?

also, any thoughts from anyone that has had a second open heart surgery. How does it compare to the first?

Thank you. 

6 Replies
  • AHAASAKatie
    AHAASAKatie, June 26,  2020  8:44am EST

    Good morning, I am so sorry that this is something you are having to face. I can share what we have regarding HV surgery recovery and healthy living goals.  We do have members that have had multiple surgeries and I look forward to reading their responses as well. Please know we are here to listen  and support you. 

    Best Katie

  • AmbassadorDN
    AmbassadorDN, June 26,  2020  11:20am EST

    Hello, and welcome!

    I'm Debra N, one of several current and former Heart Valve Ambassadors who are here to offer insight, and I'm sure that others will be along shortly to offer their encouragement.

    I have had three heart valve surgeries myself: a mitral valve repair in 2006, a tissue replacement in 2016, and finally a mechanical replacement in 2017.

    To answer your questions:

    First, recovery from a second (or third) surgery depends on so many factors. I can tell you that some will notice no difference in the recovery trajectory from a first to second, some will struggle with recovery, and so on. My recoveries were drastically different for a variety of reasons. One thing I can suggest is to do cardiac rehab if offered to you post-op. That will help you. Still, be kind to your body and don't push yourself too hard. Most hospitals don't address the possibility of post-cardiac surgery depression, so if this happens to you, please reach out and don't feel bad if you feel bad mentally for a while. I can tell you stories about my own post-op depression and how I still struggle sometimes. It's all part of the recovery process..

    Next, mechanical valves are designed to last a lifetime. However, as with any valve type, another surgery may be possible due to issues that develop. For example, my tissue valve was supposed to last 20 years but failed after only a few months. 

    Unless you plan on doing contact sports, there really are no restrictions with mechanical valves. I still run, hike, walk, and live life as normally as before the valve implantation. Please do not listen to the myths about mechanical valves, such as that you can't eat green vegetables and have to give up spinach, lettuce, etc altogether because Vitamin K found in leafy greens acts as a coagulant. My doctors have always said, "Dose for your diet, don't diet for your dose." Coumadin can be a pain for me only when I have to have a medical procedure. Really, once you get your INR stable (which will be done for you while you are in the hospital) you should be fine.  I check in with my local Coumadin Clinic and adjust my dosing every now and then,  and I'm doing well!

    Please discuss any specific medical concerns with your doctor (cardiologist and/or surgeon), and feel free to ask away here as well! We are all here for you. 

    To Heart and Soul Health,

    Ambassador DN

  • TomBroussard
    TomBroussard, June 26,  2020  12:22pm EST

    Hi Fellow Heart Valve Disease person!

    I am sorry for another heart repair...it is always a bummer...no matter what. But we do get better (and less bummer-ques!) too!

    I had open heart (bioprosthetic aortic valve replacement and quadruple bypass without blood thinner), then 3 months later, I got a stroke and aphasia (loss of language), then 6 years later, my bioprosthetic aortic valve fails (badly) and I received a TAVR with a new bioprosthetic aortic valve (I desperate wanted blood thinner given my first stroke event, and got 6 months of blood thinner—which I loved! Yay!).

    It wasn’t until my TAVR operation when I realized that the bioprosthetic aortic valves, although they are not “mechanical” valves, they are not “organic” either. The bioprosthetic aortic valves are built in a factory, using tissue from an animal (often pig or cow) but completed constructed and rebuilt with the tissue from an animal but not one that looks anything like the animal’s valve.

    Once I realized (much too late to change my future) that the path I was on would bring me to who I am today (stroke, aphasia, TAVR (to replace my last “organic” valve) and the likely prospect of another TAVR replacement with a bioprosthetic aortic valves given that it doesn’t last forever—I HOPE I get 10-15 years with my current one). Given what I know now and wished I could have known it back then, I would have opted for a mechanical valve at the start.

    I loved my blood thinner and once it was stable (with my INR), there was never as issue. Unless one does contact sports, there shouldn’t be any issues from blood thinner…for life.

    Good luck with your upcoming surgery...take care!  We are all rooting for you!  Take care!  Tom B.

  • AmbassadorB
    AmbassadorB, June 26,  2020  7:42pm EST

    Abrajam 2020,

    First of all; Know that you are on The Right Track!   You're doing the right thing!   Your options - avoiding the surgery  would be a poor risk. 

    Second:   Medical Science, as you surely know, has made fantastic progress in recent years,and unheard of cardio procedures less than a decade ago, are commonplace today!  Mechanical valves are "here and now"  -  they are performing  everywhere, with folks of all ages, and  we are lucky to have them!  Debra (Ambassador DN)    is an outstanding example of the value.   This young lady enjoys a high quality of life,has a very optimistic  outlook on life, and is an excellent example for all of us.

    I have been a user of Warfarin (Coumadin) for several years.   I bruise fairly easily, but the body quickly reacts and the coloration is gone.   No pain is associated with this.   The benefit of avoiding potential clotting and resulting complications makes the use of this medicine (pill) a "no brainer".   I know of no hardship or discomfort resulting from the use of Warfarin.  Don't have any second thoughts about this Aid. 

    All the best!   Stay the course.

    Ambassador B     Bernie

  • Abrajam2020
    Abrajam2020, July 2,  2020  2:16pm EST

    This is Jim A. I am the 62 year old that is having my second open heart surgery on Monday, July 6.

    Thank you so much to everyone for the comments and encouragement. I do appreciate it!

    I would love to be able to talk to someone that has a mechanical mitral valve. If you're out there, is there anyway I can have a conversation with you?

    Thank you!

    Jim A 


  • AHAASAKatie
    AHAASAKatie, July 3,  2020  8:33am EST

    Good morning everyone and Happy Almost 4th of July!! 

    I wanted to touch base about connecting with each other off of the Support Network. There are times people want to take the conversation off the site and do talk to each other over the phone or by personal email. However, personal safety is always a concern when dealing with the internet. For that reason, I did remove Jim's phone number from the above post.

    The best way to exchange information is to note in the conversation forum that you want to talk offline and send an email to   SupportNetwork@heart.org . From that point, I can facilitate exchanging phone numbers or email addresses. 

    In this situation, Jim, please email me at SupportNetwork@heart.org, please include your username, real name, and your contact information. 
    For our members, if you are interested in connecting offline with Jim, please do the same thing and I will make sure you have each other's contact info. 

    Thank you,
    Katie Bahn
    Community Manager
    Support Network & MyAFibExperience


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