First Mechanical Heart Valve Keeps Tickin’ 38 Years Later

As I wrote earlier about the first mechanical heart valves, doctors could do little to help people with failing heart valves until 1960, when Portland heart surgeon Dr. Albert Starr and engineer Lowell Edwards introduced their mechanical heart valve. Here is a picture of a replica of the first ball-in-cage heart valve replacement that was given to me by Edwards Lifesciences.

First Heart Valve Replacement - Caged Ball Design

One of the key questions patients ask me is, “How long did the early mechanical heart valves last?”

Well, below you can see scans of a Starr-Edwards heart valves from a 67-year-old Montreal woman. The valves have been functioning flawlessly 38 years after surgeons implanted them. The aortic valve is open in the left image, and the mitral valve is open in the right. The New England Journal of Medicine featured the cardiac catheterization images from the Montreal Heart Institute in its May 22 issue.

Ultrasound Images Of First Mechanical Heart Valve Replacement

Before Starr and Edwards developed their mechanical heart valve, no patient had lived longer than three months after heart valve replacement attempts. Four of Starr’s earliest patients lived more than 40 years.

Amazing!!!

Keep on tickin!

Adam Pick
Written by Adam Pick

Adam Pick is a patient, author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery and the founder of HeartValveSurgery.com.

To learn how Adam has helped millions of people with heart valve disease, watch Adam's video, subscribe to his free newsletter, or visit his Facebook, or Twitter pages.

  • Bill Holbert

    Dear Adam:
    I am Bill Holbert a Long Time firefighter Paramedic my wife just had Aortic and Mytral valve replacements on 8/15/2008 and is doing very well she is still on a temporary pacer but only on the ventricular side I am happy to see
    such an improvement in her she has better color and it is easier for her to talk and not have to catch her breath I am glad to see your page because even though i am a Medic firefighter you still wander what a patients quility of life will be for their future and as i can tell it improves things tremendously….

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