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

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

Mechanical Heart Valves...(MHV) - What's it all about Alfie?

Inaugural Post:
Mechanical Heart Valve:

So you have a mechanical heart valve (MHV) - or you have to have your heart valve replaced -and are contemplating the options: mechanical valve or biological valve. (MHV - Now that's a cool acronym..also used I believe for 'Mouse Hepatitis Virus!' ..hmmm...) What is an MHV? - MHV's are prosthetics designed to replicate the function of the natural valves of the human heart. First Up. - This site is NOT about 'pushing' one valve type over the other - there are valid reasons for choosing either type, with the acceleration of research with both human tissue regeneration (advances in stem cell research) and new advances in artificial heart valve/stent technology, both of which are VERY exciting making for even more great advances in the coming years. Because this site is primarily dedicated to mechanical heart valves that is what the focus of the site is - why you have chosen (or others) to have a mechanical heart valve over a tissue or biological valve, the pros and cons, the operation, recovery from the operation, living with the valve, getting used to - (and ways to counter) your new
'tick-tock-click-thump' (!), your partner getting used to the after effects of living with the noise of your valve (!), and a new life living with your life long blood thinner medication -
Warfarin (Coudamin). What you can eat, what not best to eat, alchohol and its effect on Warfarin, interaction of other drugs with Warfarin, rheumatism drugs and compatibility with Warfarin, sports, contact and adventure sports (skiing, football etc) , .. yes - no .. and all the questions that I asked - and still ask about living with my mechanical heart valve. Hopefully, as this site gathers pace and members, this will be a thriving online community for all who have a mechanical heart valve. By my estimates, and from what scant information I have uncovered, there are currently (approximately) 10,000 artificial heart valves a year implanted in the UK. Multiply this by a modest factor of 25 for the rest of the world - EU, USA, Australia/NZ etc and you have I think a figure of around 250,000 artificial heart valves a year fitted world wide - and growing by a factor of approximately 8% per year with the uptake of keyhole surgery, new valve technology, and people being much healthier and fitter in their old age, (60 is the new 50 and 70 is the new 60!) thus living much longer than previous generations. If we extrapolate that 30% of these artificial valves fitted are mechanical valves (*this is an
EXTREMELY MODEST estimate - it is more like over 50%) as current strong anectdotal evidence suggests medical specialists and doctors have now moved to being firmly in favour of mechanical valves over tissue valves, primarily as mechanical valves usually do not require re-opertion again in the patients lifetime, that is over 75,000
mechanical heart valves that are fitted annually world wide - that's a LOT of 'heavy (heart!) metal' that is implanted - ANNUALLY!
(St Jude Medical estimate that there are approximately 225,000 heart valve procedures performed worldwide each year.) The
Wikipedia entry for Artificial Heart Valve reads as below: "Heart Mechanical heart valves (MHV) are prosthetics designed to replicate the function of the natural valves of the human heart. The human heart contains four valves: tricuspid valve, pulmonic valve, mitral valve and aortic valve. Their main purpose is to maintain unimpeded forward flow through the heart and from the heart into the major blood vessels connected to the heart, the pulmonary artery and the aorta. As a result of a number of disease processes, both acquired and congenital, any one of the four heart valves may malfunction and result in either stenosis (impeded forward flow) and/or backward flow (regurgitation). Either process burdens the heart and may lead to serious problems including heart failure. A mechanical heart valve is intended to replace a diseased heart valve with its prosthetic equivalent. There are two basic types of valves that can be used for aortic valve replacement, mechanical and tissue valves.
Modern mechanical valves can last indefinitely (the equivalent of over 50,000 years in an accelerated valve wear tester).
However, current mechanical heart valves all require lifelong treatment with anticoagulants (blood thinners), e.g. warfarin, which requires monthly blood tests to monitor. This process of thinning the blood is called anticoagulation. Tissue heart valves, in contrast, do not require the use of anticoagulant drugs due to the improved blood flow dynamics resulting in less red cell damage and hence less clot formation.
Their main weakness however, is their limited lifespan. Traditional tissue valves, made of pig heart valves, will last on average 15 years before they require replacement (Note: studies as of November 2006 suggest that they may last longer in recipients under 50, refuting previous understanding)." So there you have it. First Day. First Blog. First "Gig".. First Social Media site in the
WORLD dedicated to your Mechanical Heart Valve - and of course to your family and friends.
So - "If the hat (oops!)
valve fits - wear it"! - Come on in and join! Graeme Archer Founder Mechanical Heart Valve Forum PS: Here's a peek at what the future holds...

A look into the future - Non Surgical Implantation of artificial heart valve

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