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

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

Hi everyone, well I had the op on 7th Nov at Harefield, so now almost 3 weeks post-op.  I'm happy to report it went very smoothly, no complications apart from picking up a urinary tract infection.  So glad I chose a mechanical valve as I wouldn't want to go through this again.  I was in hospital for 9 days as my inr took a little while to come up into range.  Was discharged on the Friday and went to my local anticoagulant clinic on the Monday morning where it had dropped to 1.2.  So I've virtually had to start again and had to give myself heparin injections for a few days.

I can see what everyone has been saying about feeling a stronger heartbeat etc.  For the first couple of days it felt like the whole thing was lurching around in my chest.  That's settled down now and I haven't found the 'ticking' too bad at all, it's quite reassuring really. 

I'm still sleeping propped up in bed on loads of pillow, no hope of trying sleeping on my side yet.  I'm also very sore still, more so now than in the first week.  It feels like chest muscles, and back muscles, maybe my posture isn't very good at the moment.  Will have to see my GP if it doesn't improve.  I cooked a curry at the weekend, and probably moving around more, so maybe I did a bit too much.  Doing loads od walking, up to about 15 minutes three times a day at the moment

Would like to hear if anyone else remembers having similar problems.

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Comment by James Cohen on November 29, 2012 at 13:03


Glad to hear you are on the road to recovery, I would not worry about your INR too much, it will take time for you to get used to getting your diet and Warfarin dose in balance.  Remeber that all food has some Vit K, and too much or too little will have an impact on your INR.  Equally alcohol has an impact.  This does not mean you should stop eating green veg, like cabbage, or stopping drinking any alcohol, all you have to do is get used to the impact it has on you.  There are some very good sources on the Internet that will help you understand what food is high/low in Vit K, as the hospitals and GPs are not very good in this respect.


As to your sleeping position, I cannot remeber what I was told, but it will take some time for the bones to heal and the muscles to knit together again, I think it was about 8-12 weeks before I could attempt to sleep on my side, but it might well have been longer.  It will get better in time, and assuming you are offered cardiac rehab, this will help greatly too.  When it comes to cooking (and I did and do a lot) and walking, just take it a day at a time, if you feel tired, stop - do not push it, but the more exercise you can take, the better for you.


I know it might be difficult at the moment, but for me (7 years on) it was definately the correct decision to have a new MHV.  I have 100 times more engergy, and have just returned from the Middle East (having been mobilised from the Royal Naval Reserve into the RN and running the Merchant Navy end of Counter Piracy Operations in the Indian Ocean) - had I not had a new MHV I would not have been able to do it.


If you are returning to work, make sure that you have a sensible return to work programme, you will get very tired to start with - try not to over do it.


Good luck



Comment by Martina on November 28, 2012 at 7:36

Hi Sue

Very glad to hear the Op went well. I had MHV (Aorta & Ascending Aorta) in April this year. My INR dropped a bit in the beginning - probably due to doing more exercise as I started to feel better, it stabilised within weeks. Like you, I found it hurt more approx 2 to 5wks post Op - I put it down to me doing more and also I was trying to reduce the amount of painkillers I was taking. The 'ticking' noise/feeling does reduce with time - now days it's only at night in bed that I can really hear it. Finding the right sleeping position took me some time, I would really prefer to go back to sleeping on my front but can't yet - too much pressure on my chest, still it's only been 7months, I'm sure it won't be long before I can.

It’s only been about 3wks since your Op – don’t push yourself too much – listen to your body, rest a lot, I was sleeping a lot during the day even 4wks post Op. In a few more weeks you will feel a lot better and will find you can do much more exercise etc. Try not to lift heavy things, I even had a small kettle so I didn’t lift too much plus make sure you get up out of the chair etc pushing from your legs not using your arms to push up – it took me a little while to make this a habit. You may have already read about a rolled towel (or some people use a cushion) to push against your chest as you get up – this sounds so simple but it was a tool I found to be very helpful.

You will feel better every day – don’t worry if you have a few bad days here and there (Blue days) it’s only natural.

Wishing you all the best – if you have any questions please ask and I will try to help.

Best regards



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