Some malfunctioning heart valves can be repaired while others must be replaced. For select patients, repair and/or replacement of a heart valve is feasible through a minimally invasive approach. One of the most common minimally invasive procedures is called transcatheter aortic valve replacement, or TAVR. An alternative to open heart surgery, TAVR is a treatment for aortic valve stenosis, a narrowing of the aortic valve. The procedure takes less than two hours, and patients typically go home within 48 hours.
At BMC our objective is always to repair the valve if possible. If that is not feasible, patients have a choice of a mechanical or biological valve, most commonly from animal tissue. The main advantage of mechanical valves is their durability, typically lasting a lifetime. However, one potential downside is the need for blood thinning medication to ensure that blood clots don’t form on the valve. Taking this medication requires regular blood level checks.
Because biological valves are less likely to cause blood clots, patients are not required to take anticoagulants. However, they are less durable than mechanical valves and may need to be replaced during a patient's lifetime.