Irregular Heart Rhythms and Mitral Valve Replacement

There is a relationship between irregular heart rhythms and mitral valve replacement surgery. In fact, irregular heart rhythms are a relatively common occurrence during mitral valve replacement surgery. Most of these irregular heart rhythms are brief and cause no symptoms. In rare cases, an abnormal rhythm can develop that creates an immediate risk; however, your healthcare providers are trained to deal with irregular heart rhythms and mitral valve replacement surgery.

Irregular Heart Rhythms and Mitral Valve Replacement: An Overview

Before we discuss the specifics of irregular heart rhythms as a complication of mitral valve replacement, you should know a little about the normal process of a heartbeat.
 
Your heart is only able to beat because it sends electrical signals from an area in your heart called the SA node, or the main pacemaker.
 
In a normal situation, the electrical signals cause the upper parts of the heart to beat together. This pushes blood into the lower parts of the heart. Then, as the electrical signals continue through the heart, the lower chambers contract to push blood out of the heart.
 
Sometimes, things go wrong in the heart's electrical pathways. After mitral valve replacement surgery when the heart is recovering, the electrical signals can become disorganized. This creates abnormal heartbeats. The heart may beat too slowly, too rapidly, or just irregularly.
 
Irregular heart rhythms are a relatively common occurrence during mitral valve replacement. Fortunately, most of these are very brief and cause no symptoms.
 

Atrial Fibrillation and Mitral Valve Replacement

One example of irregular heart rhythms that do create symptoms is called atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation symptoms may include a rapid heart rate or a pounding in your chest. This abnormal rhythm is caused by too many electrical signals in the upper heart chambers, or atria. Why this occurs after mitral valve replacement surgery is not known. Your heart simply does not contract in a coordinated manner but instead quivers. However, your doctor can treat atrial fibrillation if it does occur.
 
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Mitral Valve Replacement Risks

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