Living with a New Valve

You should expect to heal and return to your pre-valve replacement state up to one week for TAVR and two to three months for SAVR. These are average times and may be different for you depending on a variety of factors.

Follow the instructions provided by the hospital and your health care provider upon discharge. Let your provider know if you continue to experience symptoms similar to those prior to your valve replacement or experience new symptoms.

Regular visits with your local health care provider and at the institution performing your aortic valve replacement are important to monitoring your recovery and trouble-shooting any issues that may emerge.

Medications

After TAVR and SAVR medications play a key role during recovery and subsequently in treating residual cardiac and non-cardiac conditions. Everyone’s medication regimen must be individualized and you must understand what medications you need and what purpose they serve. When you have doubts or questions contact your health care provider.

For your new valve you will likely be on some type of blood thinner when you are discharged. Mechanical heart valves require warfarin (Coumadin). Long-term use of aspirin is common in tissue valves. The use of antiplatelet medication like aspirin and clopidogrel versus other blood thinners like warfarin or newer anticoagulants (e.g., Eliquis, Xarelto, Pradaxa) must be individualized. Other issues like having atrial fibrillation or coronary stents may modify the choice of blood thinners in your case.

You should also receive instructions on whether you need to take antibiotics if you undergo any medical or dental procedures that are associated with bacteria transiently entering the bloodstream. In general implanted medical device like heart valves used in TAVR and SAVR are susceptible to infection from bacteria in the blood stream settling into the valve. If this type of serious infection occurs, called endocarditis, there may be a need to remove your new valve. Therefore prevention of endocarditis is a top priority in all SAVR and TAVR patients. This risk can be reduced by a short course of antibiotics during specific medical and dental procedures.

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