McLaren Health Care
Aortic Valve Surgery

Aortic Valve

Blood flows out of your heart and into a large blood vessel called the aorta. The aortic valve separates the heart and aorta. The aortic valve opens so blood can flow out. It then closes to keep blood from returning to the heart.

Valve Repair

You may need aortic valve surgery to repair or replace the aortic valve in your heart if:

  • Your aortic valve does not close all the way so blood leaks back into the heart. This is called aortic regurgitation.
  • Your aortic valve does not open fully so blood flow out of the heart is reduced. This is called aortic stenosis.
  • Open aortic valve surgery replaces the valve through a large cut in your chest.

Alternative Names

Aortic valve replacement; Aortic valvuloplasty; Aortic valve repair; Replacement - aortic valve; AVR

Valve Replacement

If your aortic valve is too damaged, you will need a new valve. This is called replacement surgery. Your surgeon will remove your aortic valve and sew a new one into place. There are two main types of new valves:

  • Mechanical, made of man-made materials, such as titanium or carbon. These valves last the longest. You may need to take blood-thinning medicine, such as warfarin (Coumadin) for the rest of your life if you have this type of valve.
  • Biological, made of human or animal tissue. These valves may last 10 to 20 years, but you may not need to take blood thinners for life.

You may need surgery if your aortic valve does not work properly. You may need open-heart valve surgery for these reasons:

  • Changes in your aortic valve are causing major heart symptoms, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, fainting spells, or heart failure.
  • Tests show that changes in your aortic valve are beginning to seriously harm how well your heart works.
  • Your heart valve has been damaged by infection of the heart valve (endocarditis).
  • You have received a new heart valve in the past and it is not working well.
  • You have other problems such as blood clots, infection, or bleeding.

Patient Stories

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'Life is good’ for runner saved after heart attack"
In January 2018, I ran the 5K that I wasn’t able to finish two years ago. The what ifs tried to work their way back in, but I wouldn’t let th...
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