The normal recovery time after a heart valve surgery is usually four to eight weeks, and may be shorter after minimally invasive surgeries.
You can expect to stay in the hospital for about a week, including at least 1 to 3 days in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
Recovery after valve surgery may take a long time, depending on how healthy you were before the operation. You will have to rest and limit your activities. Your doctor may want you to begin an exercise program or to join a cardiac rehabilitation program.
If you have an office job, you can usually go back to work in 4 to 6 weeks. Those who have more physically demanding jobs may need to wait longer.
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Most valve repair and replacement operations are successful. In some rare cases, a valve repair may fail and another operation may be needed.
Patients with a biological valve may need to have the valve replaced in 10 to 15 years. Mechanical valves may also fail, so patients should alert their doctor if they are having any symptoms of valve failure.
Patients with a mechanical valve will need to take a blood-thinning medicine for the rest of their lives. Because these medicines increase the risk of bleeding within the body, you should always wear a medical alert bracelet and tell your doctor or dentist that you are taking a blood-thinning medicine.
Even if you are not taking a blood-thinning medicine, you must always tell your doctor and dentist that you have had valve surgery. If you are having a surgical or dental procedure, you should take an antibiotic before the procedure. Bacteria can enter the bloodstream during these procedures. If bacteria get into a repaired or artificial valve, it can lead to a serious condition called bacterial endocarditis. Antibiotics can prevent bacterial endocarditis.
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You can expect to stay in the hospital for about a week, including at least 1 to 3 days in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Recovery after valve surgery may take a long time, depending on how healthy you were before the operation.
Exercising will help to speed up your recovery, and it's a key component of a healthy lifestyle. Exercise increases your fitness levels, helps control blood pressure, weight and cholesterol, and keep you relaxed.
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To keep blood vessels clear after bypass surgery, avoid foods high in fat and cholesterol, such as whole milk, cheese, cream, ice cream, butter, high-fat meats, egg yolks, baked desserts, and any foods that are fried.
Many studies have shown that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, nuts and seeds can reduce your risk of heart disease. A healthy diet provides your body with plenty of heart-protective nutrients - like vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and dietary fibre.
Ideally, your diet should include:
Aim to consume 2 serves of fruit, 5 serves of vegetables and 4 or more serves of wholegrains - depending on your energy needs. Some other tips to help you eat well include:
The life expectancy after valve replacement varies with age, but life-table analyses of large datasets suggest the average life-expectancy of a 60 year old after aortic valve replacement is about 12 years. Your breastbone will usually heal in about 6 to 8 weeks, but it may be 2 to 3 months before you feel your normal self again.
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