How Common Are Heart Blocks With Aortic Valve Replacement?

Heart Block and Aortic Valve Replacement

The damaged aortic valve requiring aortic valve replacement is close to some of the fibers carrying electrical signals through your heart. Because the diseased tissue of the valve must be removed and the new aortic valve sewn in place, in about 5 out of 100 patients, these electrical fibers can be damaged during aortic valve replacement. The electrical fibers carrying the signals can become blocked; this is called heart block.
 
Temporary pacing wires can be placed on the surface of the heart, which can bypass the damaged electrical fibers and act as a pacemaker. Most of the time, these wires are only needed for a few days. In about 5 out of 100 patients this heart block is permanent and will require another procedure to place a permanent pacemaker. This is a simple procedure and is usually done very quickly with little discomfort. In rare cases, an abnormal rhythm may lead to loss of life.
 
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