How to Prepare for Your Aortic Valve Replacement Procedure
If you’ve been diagnosed with a damaged aortic valve, your doctor will likely inform you of the need for an aortic valve replacement.
There are two treatment options available to patients to replace a diseased aortic valve. One is the transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI), also known as transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), the other is open heart surgery.
It’s helpful to discuss with your doctor about these treatment options and the risks involved with each. He will be able to clarify the situation and answer any questions you may have. Being clear about the situation will make it easier for you to make an informed decision and prepare yourself for the procedure.
What to Do Before Aortic Valve Replacement
To prepare yourself mentally and physically for the aortic valve replacement procedure, it would be helpful to communicate with your doctor. Having an honest and open discussion would help you to manage the situation prior to going through with the procedure. Some of the things you may wish to discuss with your doctor are:
You may wish to exercise but if your heart condition is severe, any level of exertion may worsen your condition. Nevertheless, you may discuss with your doctor to identify a suitable level of exercise that you can do without causing additional stress. Look out for any new symptoms that develop such as shortness of breath, chest pain, or feeling faint, and report to your doctor immediately.
Inform your doctor of the medications you are taking for any pre-existing conditions. Your doctor may advise you to continue or to forgo them before the procedure if necessary.
Get your doctor’s advice about a suitable diet for your condition. Find out what foods to avoid, and what foods to take more of. Don’t forget to ask if you should fast before the procedure.
Your doctor may advise you to get a dental check-up before undergoing the valve replacement procedure. This is because oral bacteria may infect the valve and cause complications later.
Discuss with your doctor about the recovery period after the procedure. Some people get discharged in a day or two but some may require longer stay. Your doctor will be able to recommend steps that you can take to help with the recovery. It’s also good to plan the details of who will assist you during your stay in hospital, after you get back home, and what meals you will need during this time.
Your Hospital Stay
Patients who undergo the heart valve replacement procedure will have varying rates of recovery. Some may heal within days, while others may take many more days of rest before they are back to normal. Usually, those who undergo the TAVI procedure may experience faster recovery times, while those who go for open heart surgery may take a longer time to heal. Ask your doctor about what to expect after the procedure and how best to cope.
Learn more about the different aortic valve replacement procedures and what to expect.