The heart is a complex organ that pumps blood to all areas of the body, ensuring tissues get the nutrients and oxygen they need. In the heart, there are valves that keep blood from moving in the wrong direction. Sometimes those valves break down and need to be repaired or even replaced. If your aging relative has been advised that they need a heart valve replacement, knowing more about the procedure may help you to be more prepared for ensuring they are well cared for.
Reasons for Valve Replacement.
There are a few reasons that a person may need their heart valve replaced, including:
- Narrow Valve: When a valve becomes narrow, it is difficult for blood to flow easily through. Replacing the aortic valve because of narrowing is the most common valve replacement procedure.
- Leaky Valve: When the aortic valve leaks, it allows blood to move back into the heart instead of being pumped through the body. Without treatment, a leaky valve can lead to heart failure. The mitral valve can also leak, allowing blood that has been oxygenated to move back toward the lungs, which can cause chest pain, shortness of breath, and an irregular heartbeat.
Kinds of Replacement Valves.
Heart valves can be replaced either with a biological valve or a mechanical valve. A biological valve is one made from human or animal (cow or pig) tissue. Sometimes surgeons use the patient’s pulmonary valve as the replacement. Biological valves don’t usually require the person to take blood thinners after surgery, but they often need to be replaced within 10 to 20 years because the tissue breaks down.
Mechanical valves are made from plastic, metal, or carbon. These valves last a long time, so may not need to be replaced. However, they increase the risk of developing blood clots, so the patient usually needs to take blood thinners.
Most of the time, heart valve replacement requires open heart surgery. The surgeon makes an opening in the chest that is between 6 and 8 inches in length. The breastbone is split to provide access to the heart. Recovery from the surgery takes some time. Your aging relative might be in the hospital for a week. Then, the breastbone takes up to 2 months to heal. Complete recovery takes around 3 months.
Senior care can assist the older adult during the recovery period when they’ll need to rest more. Senior care providers can watch over them to make sure they are comfortable and safe. They can also help with things around the house, like cleaning, cooking, laundry, and basic pet care. In addition, senior care providers can remind the person when it is time to take their medications.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering senior care in Plainview, NY, please call the caring staff at Companion Home Care of Long Island. Senior Home Care serving Suffolk, Nassau and Queens Counties. Turn your questions into answers. Call Today (631) 884-0005
Dorothy’s core expertise includes an extensive background of more than 38 years, focusing on Home Care, Senior Care and operating a successful in-home care agency.
In her spare time she enjoys her 5 grandchildren, gardening, skiing and competition 8-Ball.