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

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

Is it ever! - But I love it! YOUR thoughts and experiences in this discussion..how it affects you, your partner, sleeping with a mechanical heart valve, questions - any other points? Put it all down here!

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Holly

 

Its the biggest single thing that we MHV recipients all comment on at the start - the bloody noise! Click.Tick Thump! But - you WILL get used to it and even come to love the noise - as if its a clickin' and a tickin' - all is well - and so are we! I sleep with a small wheat pack pillow against my chest on my side to muffle the noise (I have not been able to sleep on my back since the implant!) and the other thing I do suggest is to buy a 1-1/2 - 2 inch 'miracle foam' mattress topper. It really muffles the noise - especially for my wife as before we had it she could hear my ticking through her pillow (!) as the sound was travelling through the mattress (via the springs?) and up into her pillow.. !

Hope this helps Holly... 

cheers

 

Graeme
Holly Allen said:

I have to sleep with a pillow over top of my head to drown out the noise..Only one person that is familiar with the MHV sound could hear it..I guess everyone just thinks they are hearing the ticking of a clock in the room!! I have to take something to sleep as I cannot sleep at all with the pounding of my heart..It seems like such a strong heart beat and that is taking some getting used to!!Time , I suppose!!

Funny that Graeme I nearly always used to sleep on my front, but now sleep on my back as its the most comfortable/less intrusive way for me...

 

Ah individuality is a strange but wonderful thing :o)

yes graeme, i do have a wheat pillow and that does help drown out the noise, It is actually called a magic bag,and i heat it up in the microwave 1st to warm me up because I am always cold now!! Thanks for the suggestions Graeme!! Cheers!! Holly

Graeme said:

Holly

 

Its the biggest single thing that we MHV recipients all comment on at the start - the bloody noise! Click.Tick Thump! But - you WILL get used to it and even come to love the noise - as if its a clickin' and a tickin' - all is well - and so are we! I sleep with a small wheat pack pillow against my chest on my side to muffle the noise (I have not been able to sleep on my back since the implant!) and the other thing I do suggest is to buy a 1-1/2 - 2 inch 'miracle foam' mattress topper. It really muffles the noise - especially for my wife as before we had it she could hear my ticking through her pillow (!) as the sound was travelling through the mattress (via the springs?) and up into her pillow.. !

Hope this helps Holly... 

cheers

 

Graeme
Holly Allen said:

I have to sleep with a pillow over top of my head to drown out the noise..Only one person that is familiar with the MHV sound could hear it..I guess everyone just thinks they are hearing the ticking of a clock in the room!! I have to take something to sleep as I cannot sleep at all with the pounding of my heart..It seems like such a strong heart beat and that is taking some getting used to!!Time , I suppose!!

Yes, at first I really thought I would not get used to it (the noise and the Thump), but I HAVE! Graeme has been right since the beginning, and I really thank him and the rest of the group for being here.  I have a white noise machine that is now part of our nightly routine, and I sleep with a pillow against my chest, and I love it too.  It is a noisy valve, indeed, and my wife can totally hear it, and so can our children, but they are happy to have me around, and I am even happier to be around for them, so everything is great!  The noise is a reminder of this gift we used to take for granted called LIFE.  So, let us be thankful for the valve, the noise and all the other expressions of being alive that we face daily.

 

Best,

 

Joaquín

Like others who have posted I have found this thread really helpful in coming to terms with feeling my valve tick. I can't say that I actually hear it - it is more of a sensation in my chest and the back of my throat. Once I recognised that it was the common experience of others and had no bearing onthe efficiency of my heart I have managed toignore it most of the time. When occasionally it troubles me I calm myself with some Yoga based meditation. For me dealing with the anxiety was the key step forward.

I know I haven't been on in a while just been busy trying not to over do things but get back to my life. But, I did feel that I should share some comments and info as of recent times.

 

My girlfriend claims that she doesn't really hear my valve unless she tries to listen for it when she wakes up late at night and I am motionless. Some of my friends don't hear it that often either although out of the blue one of them yelled I can hear you ticking!!! during a quiet moment at their apartment.

 

Although I have had longer sessions of not hearing my valve there are still times that I do. I kind of expect this to continue for a while especially since My surgery was only on October 20th 2010. Sometimes I have noticed it more during stressful situations or times I really am trying to force myself to get to sleep and other times while against a wall or window. I definitely hear it after I take certain meds and after really high sodium intake like if I go out to eat with friends and family and splurge on the meal lol.

 

is it possible I will always notice it from now on? or maybe less later?

 

also great trick is controlling my pulse to match the ticking to the sound from certain clocks and as of recently my new Pocket watch that my girlfriend gave me for my birthday.

Dear Jonathan,

 

In my case, it has been 16 months since my surgery and I have come to basically "forget" or "ignore" the sound that my valve makes.  At first I thought I would never become used to it, but I guess I have. On the other hand, if I really focus or concentrate on hearing it, I can always hear it, even if I am on board a plane or even an ATV, which is nice.  

 

Take care and try to seize the day.  

 

Best,

 

Joaquín 

The "noisy heart valve" discussion has been inactive for a few years so I hope somebody is still interested with long term experience. It seems I am the newest member to the group, now 6 months post revision aortic valve from a tissue valve to a St Judes mechanical, root replacement and Dacron conduit for the proximal aorta.  The thumping is my primary concern/problem.  It's a life changer. As Joaquin said, its distinct from the click which is not so bothersome.  It's a mechanical vibration that radiates through the upper sternum into the clavicles.  It increases with inspiration, reclining slightly backwards. Feels like somebody is punching me in the breast bone from the inside.  Exhaling and leaning slightly forwards reduce it.  Lying on my side actually makes it worse.  I'm finding it very difficult to disassociate the feeling that this thumping represents something very wrong mechanically.

I gather from the name of the website and the discussions that some thumping is common and most people get used to it.  One fellow patient who I spoke with, however, was so annoyed he had his mechanical valve removed and exchanged for a tissue valve one year after insertion.  The risks of a redo are too great for me to consider, and then you're faced with the same dilemma of eventual tissue valve failure down the road.  

Sleeping is an issue.  I sleep with a fan on and use a memory foam pillow.  Both help.  I will probably convert the mattress too and look for a wheat pillow.  During the day, the thumping can really make it hard to comfortably get through some activities.  I am concerned about a lecture I have to give next week, standing in front of an audience for an hour.  Not sure I can appear relaxed or maintain my concentration.  Can other thumpers comment on how they did or did not adapt?

Thanks,

Tim

Hi Tim

I had a mechanical aortic valve fitted in August 2010 - I'm guessing this qualifies as a longer term 'thumper'. To be perfectly honest, I now don't notice my mechanical valve at all. When I say not at all, that is exactly what I mean. Other than a scar down the line of my sternum, I would't really be aware of anything else.

I hope this is of some reassurance. I wrote on this very discussion topic some ten days after my op, saying that I was having the thumping sensation, and I found the site reassuring back then. (My post is still there). I hope your longer term experience is the same as mine, and that things settle down. Even my experience with Warfarin (Coumadin) has been very smooth and easy. My levels have always been stable and It doesn't impact on my life one bit.

Good luck.

Tom

Tim Grey said:

The "noisy heart valve" discussion has been inactive for a few years so I hope somebody is still interested with long term experience. It seems I am the newest member to the group, now 6 months post revision aortic valve from a tissue valve to a St Judes mechanical, root replacement and Dacron conduit for the proximal aorta.  The thumping is my primary concern/problem.  It's a life changer. As Joaquin said, its distinct from the click which is not so bothersome.  It's a mechanical vibration that radiates through the upper sternum into the clavicles.  It increases with inspiration, reclining slightly backwards. Feels like somebody is punching me in the breast bone from the inside.  Exhaling and leaning slightly forwards reduce it.  Lying on my side actually makes it worse.  I'm finding it very difficult to disassociate the feeling that this thumping represents something very wrong mechanically.

I gather from the name of the website and the discussions that some thumping is common and most people get used to it.  One fellow patient who I spoke with, however, was so annoyed he had his mechanical valve removed and exchanged for a tissue valve one year after insertion.  The risks of a redo are too great for me to consider, and then you're faced with the same dilemma of eventual tissue valve failure down the road.  Can other thumpers comment on how they did or did not adapt?

Thanks,

Tim

4 years on I don't notice mine at all during the day - Only time i really notice it is at night.. but then I notice my tinnitus at the same time lol - I find some quite music or one of those "sounds of nature" type CD's helps.. sometimes it just ticks, sometimes it does seem to thump  significantly at night, but it rarely keeps me awake. I have learnt to feel comfortable with its variations.. Your heart beat varies naturally and its just part of that rythm. 

Same as you Tom , I don't find warfarin to have any impact in my life - stable and easy to live with.. I have my own testing machine so can keep an eye on my levels, but only test every 6-8 weeks

 

Well after nine years, I am not really aware of the clicking, accept when I am in a very quiet room or at night.  I actually find it quite reassuring that I can hear it going - the alternative of it not clicking does not appear to be very attractive at all!

 

I do have problems getting to sleep if I can hear it too much, and tend to put the radio on low, on a sleep setting so that it turns itself off.  If I wake during the night I repeat things with the radio.

 

Tom I think it will find it you will become less aware as time moves on.

 

As to Warfarin, I self test and only have a formal test every 3 months.  I self test every week, that way I get into a cycle - but I am also travelling a far amount at the moment (nearly all long haul) and the changes in diet do impact on me INR, and in testing weekly I can make the appropriate alterations there and then.  Much safer than waiting for a test when I get home.

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