Types of Mitral Valve Replacements
There are two types of mitral valve replacements: mechanical mitral valve replacements and tissue mitral valve replacements. Each of these types of mitral valve replacements has its advantages and disadvantages. Mechanical types of mitral valve replacements are made of metal and plastic and may last the rest of the recipient's life; however, the recipient will need to take Coumadin for the rest of his or her life. The other types of mitral valve replacement are tissue valves, which are mitral valves taken from infection-free animal hearts. Recipients of tissue valve replacements generally do not need to use Coumadin; however, tissue valves usually do not last as long as mechanical mitral valve replacements.
For someone having a mitral valve replacement, the new mitral valve will be one of two types. These two types of mitral valve replacements are:
- A man-made mechanical valve, made of metal and plastic
- A tissue valve, which is a mitral valve that is taken from an infection-free animal heart.
Each type of mitral valve has specific advantages and disadvantages.
If a mechanical mitral valve is chosen to replace your original valve, you will need to take Coumadin® after the mitral valve replacement for the rest of your life. Coumadin helps prevent blood clots from forming on the new mitral valve. With Coumadin, you will also need to have blood tests on a regular basis. This will help your doctor adjust your dose of the Coumadin so that it is appropriate for you.
Taking Coumadin can require lifestyle adjustments such as giving up contact sports, skiing, or even an occupation that requires physical activity. Because Coumadin decreases the ability of the body to clot its blood, it has a risk of causing bleeding in other parts of the body. This usually is related to some trauma, such as a fall or accident. However, patients on Coumadin can also bleed without trauma. This bleeding may occur in the form of a nose bleed, or it may appear in a person's stool or urine. This weakened ability of the body to clot its blood cause health problems ranging from easy bruising to a stroke. While taking Coumadin there is approximately a 1 percent risk that a recipient of a mitral valve replacement will experience a stroke or a bleeding complication.
The advantage of a mechanical valve is that it may possibly last the rest of your life.