Living with a Mechanical Heart Valve: Click.Tick.Thump. Love It!

Support Group for Mechanical & Artificial Heart Valve Surgery & Using Warfarin

Hi all,

I stumbled upon this forum and I’m so glad that I did. Reading your posts, I have already learned much about my condition from the people who really know. Thank you to every member who has posted on this site.

I have had aortic stenosis for many years and knew that I would need a valve replacement sooner or later. I am now 59 and had my artificial aortic valve (27mm St Jude) and replacement ascending aorta (34mm gelseal) put in four weeks ago, so I am still in the recovery phase. I have a few questions that more experienced members might be able to help me with.

Prior to the operation I was virtually asymptomatic. Since the operation my heartbeat seems far stronger. I can hear and feel it all the time. Even at rest it is thumping away like a steam hammer! Is that normal? Will it calm down, or will I just get used to it?

Also, since the operation, I have been suffering with atrial fibrillation (AF), which I had not heard of before. I have spells where my heartbeat is very irregular (think Morse code), and my pulse rate might increase to about 180 bpm. A spell can last from a few seconds to several hours and then just stop as suddenly as it started. During periods of AF, I have no energy and have to just lie down until it passes. My doctor tells me that it is not uncommon and not life-threatening. however, it could be very inconvenient if it strikes at the wrong time.

In addition to the usual Warfarin and Omeprazole, I am taking Amlodipine, Bisoprolol and Amiodarone to manage the AF (well, I think that is what they are for).

Have any other members had similar experiences? Is the condition likely to be short term or permanent? If you are living with this condition, what advice could you give me?

I would be most interested to hear from you.

Thank you for reading this posting. It is great to know that others are living life to the full with artificial heart valves. I wish every member a long, healthy and satisfying life.

Very best wishes,

Steve Blake.

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Comment by Martina on January 1, 2015 at 20:12

Hi Steve,

You are very welcome - remember we were all new to this once too :)

Read some old post on here - they are full of good stuff - we are here to help each other. The following sounds simple but it is very true, listen to your body, it will let you know how it feels doing things & slowly does it - don't push yourself just now. This is a major Op and it takes time to recovery but you will - patience.

Best regards

& Happy New Year to all on this site

Martina

Comment by Steve Blake on January 1, 2015 at 19:49

Hi Graeme, Martina. Thanks for your comments to put my mind at rest. It is so comforting to know that others have had similar experiences and are willing to give support to those of us who are new to this. 

I feel much happier about the thumping heart beat now. I have had less spells of atrial fibrillation in the last couple of days, so perhaps that will sort itself out sooner or later. Thank s again for your comments and good wishes. Please let me know if you have any other advice for a new boy. I hope to return the favour some day. Best wishes and good health...

Steve.

Comment by Martina on December 30, 2014 at 23:11

Hi Steve

 

Welcome to this wonderful website – it helped me so much Pre & Post Op.

I had MHV Aortic valve & Ascending Aorta replaced approx. 2.5yrs ago and for a few months post Op I struggled with the vibration & noise. I recall for several weeks post Op I could hear my heart & feel very strong vibrations/thumping in my upper back & neck – it was very annoying & at the time worrying (this website helped greatly, as others told me they experienced similar things). The thumping did stop – can’t remember exactly when, a few months post Op. However, the sounds continued for many months, approx 1 year, reducing in 'volume' and frequency. I can’t remember when I stopped noticing these things completely but the important point is, it did stop. In time you will stop noticing it too - we are all different so it’s impossible to say when exactly but I’m sure one day in the near future you will be like me i.e. will not be able to remember when you stopped noticing it :)

I recall lying on my side made it worse too.  

There is a good CD out which might help you relax, Heartbeat River – I used it a bit to help me try to ignore the sound/vibrations in my first few ‘Bad’ weeks.

Now whilst writing this I’m struggling to hear/feel my heart beat :) but I do remember how much I had worried about it in the first few months - Try not to worry too much about it. Try to think of it as a reassuring sound/vibration. I know it is easy to say but I tried this approach and it helped me.

Best regards

Martina

 

Comment by Graeme on December 30, 2014 at 12:11

Hi Steve,

and thanks for the post! Yep, that's why we are called the click.tick.thump! lot - as per the heading on the site. I had a 27mm St Jude put in 12 years ago from an Aortic Dissection and believe me you certainly take some time to get used to it..at best you come to an (un?)easy compromise with the thumping and there is a lot on this site and our sister aortic dissection site on how to overcome it..but best of all it is total proof of the fact you are alive and kicking! Dont know much about AF but am sure I get it too...but after 12 years I have a good understanding of my new (old now!) bits and get on with my life as we pretty much all do. as the big slogan last year was - 'stay calm and carry on'! cheers and Happy New Year!

Graeme 

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