Heart Valves

Before we met with the surgeon last week, we were praying and trying to weigh the pros and cons of all the heart valve options available.

Here are the different types of valves we were aware of with their pros and cons.

  • Mechanical
    • Pro.
      • Infinite life span
    • Cons.
      • Audible (clicking sounds)
      • Blood thinners for the rest of one’s life
  • Tissue (human, cow, or pig)
    • Pros
      • Silent
      • Probably no lifelong medicines (including both blood thinners and anti-rejection meds)
    • Con
      • 10-15 year lifespan

We really didn’t want for me to take meds for the rest of my life… but the idea of another heart surgery in 10-15 years, that didn’t sit well either.

Much to our surprise and relief, it turns out we didn’t even get to choose. (Thank you Lord! Once again preparing the way when we didn’t even realize it.) The pulmonary valve is too low pressure for a mechanical valve to even be an option. Lower pressure means slower flow, which means higher chance of blood “sticking” to the valve. Plus, with my age, blood thinners means no future chance at having kids (birth defects) and at an early age – I’d have to be on guard against falls. A small fall hitting my head means nothing now. With blood thinners, a small fall could be life threatening.

“So Debra…” (you might be thinking) “…that one Con with tissue valves, that seems pretty major!”

Yes, and No. Yes – I would need a new valve assuming I live to a ripe old age and something else doesn’t kill me. Doing the math – maybe two additional valves in my life time.  So… heart surgery again?!?

Probably not. At least not Open Heart.

Once this valve is put in place, my heart will have a “landing pad” of sorts for a future replacement valve.  In all likelihood – that valve (a melody valve) would be put in through my leg! (Crazy right!?!) It would be a much less extreme surgery. And besides that – 10-15 years from now, medicine and technology will change a lot. I know that from experience. Ten to fifteen years ago, they weren’t sure if it would be a good idea for me to have kids. Well – clearly that changed. 🙂

In my next blog post, I’ll give you a little more detail on what valve I’m getting. Here’s a hint “Moooooo.”

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