“What Is The Patient’s Lifespan After Heart Valve Replacement Operations?” Asks Valerie

When diagnosed with severe heart valve disease, most patients have a fundamental question which races through their minds. That question goes a little something like this, “Oh My Gawwwwwd… What Can I Do To Live?!”

Valerie has taken this question a step further… Valerie has been diagnosed with thickened, calcified mitral and aortic valve leaflets and moderate mitral regurgitation. She is almost certain that surgery is required. That said, Valerie’s email to me reads, “Adam – I am very afraid right now. My questions are… After a heart valve repair or replacement, can the patient live a regular long life? What is the lifespan associated with heart valve surgery?”

Calcified Mitral Valve – Thickened Leaflets

My response to Valerie first question is a confident… “Yes!” Patient’s can live a regular, long life after heart valve repair and heart valve replacement surgery.

As for her second question…

While I was preparing for my aortic valve replacement, I spent a significant amount of time researching heart valve surgery and the post-operative condition.

In fact, there is some excellent data about life expectancy after heart valve replacement surgery from St. Jude Medical, one of the leading heart valve manufacturers. According to its research, “the mean age of patients presenting for valve surgery is increasing, as is the life expectancy following valve surgery.”

Chart Showing Patient Lifespan After Heart Valve Surgery

If you look at the graph above, you can see that life expectancy ranges from 29.9 years to 14.3 years for patients experiencing heart valve surgery between the age range of 50 to 70.

While the graph above shares encouraging lifespan data for valve surgery patients, I have had the pleasure of meeting several patients that significantly stretched their life as a result of heart valve repair and/or heart valve replacement operations. Though this website and my book, I have spoke with many patients that had their surgeries 10-, 20-, 30- or even 40-years ago. Yes, you read that right! 40 years ago!!!

This is one more reason I consider heart valve surgery to be a medical miracle rather than a painful curse.

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.

  • Stanley Ather

    I had a St Jude heart valve installed in 1996. It is now 2013 and I will celebrate my 84th Birthday in July. I have never had a moments problem with my heart since the valve was installed.

  • Ernie Castillo

    On May 5, I celebrated 25 years with my St. Jude’s aortic valve. Like the Energizer Bunny: keeps on ticking.

  • Jacqueline Mongeot

    2 years ago I had the aortic, mitral and tricuspid valves replaced. I am now 89 years old. What are the prognostics? I live alone, have a good lean diet of mostly fruit, vegetables, fish, chicken or turkey) I exercise 3 or 4 times a week in a swimming pool :aerobics in the shallow end.. I am sometimes out of breath -climbing stairs- especially or walking fast. I am not afraid of death; I just want to be prepared. Thank you.

  • Bob Citron

    Re: Ernie Castillo – great to hear of about your quarter-century anniversary of your St. Jude Aortic valve! Mine is now 22 years old, and like you said it keeps on ticking/clicking. I’m 62 and still very active (surfing).

    Re: Jacqueline Mongeot – Please see my reply to Ernie. Good to see you’re in the water also; it’s great therapy and I’m pretty sure you will outlive me because your diet is better than mine!

  • Sue

    Hello to All, and thank you for your contributions to this site. I am 63 years old, and on September 23, 2013,I had a bovine aortic valve replacement, mitral valve repair with a ring, redaction of the left ventricle muscle, and the hole I’ve always had stitched up. I had no blockage, but do watch my diet. I exercise four times a week for one hour at a fitness center, using the same machines prescribed in cardio rehab. My problem is shallow breath–sometimes I cannot walk 25 feet without stopping to catch my breath. Usually, this happens when I stand up and start walking fast, but it also happens when I walk up inclines. At the same time, I experience fatigue and look for the closest chair for sitting down. I am wondering if this is a symptom that will eventually go away if I keep up a healthy diet and exercise routine. I have a job with a high degree of responsibility and would like to continue working longer, but I do get discouraged with this happening several times a day. I will appreciate any advice. Sue

  • Jacqueline Mongeot

    My name is Jacqueline. On July 27th, 2011, I had 3 heart valves replacement ( Bovine, Porcine &mechanical supplied them) + 1 bypass. I was then 87 years old. I just turned 90. I try to live as normally as possible, eat 4 very small meals a day, no animal fat watch my weight keeping it at 118 lbs. I exercise in the pool- water aerobics 3 times a week. I am more short of breath when walking.. I keep busy, still drive, paint, write and read a lot. I live alone now, my husband and best friend died of vascular disease 6 months after my surgery- we had 64 years together. Life goes on, mine was very productive and I know will be terminal for me in a few short years maybe- I am prepared. I take care of myself so my children will not worry . I believe my cardiologist and my 2 surgeons did the best they could to help me. I could have died during the surgery because of complications,.but I survived it. I wish you all a good life. Take good care of yourselves; enjoy every day. Remember: we are all survivors. Jacqueline.

  • Karen

    Sue, I read your comments the other day and want to encourage you to not get discouraged about feeling fatique and tiredness. I also get fatiqued and tired when walking. One thing you might talk to your doctor about is your medications. I have found that sometimes I have been put on too high of a dose, which made me very tired to walk and work. Reducing the dose helped me. You might also check to see if you have asthma. Both the dosage and diagnosis of asthma have helped me understand better what happens to me. I think that you are doing great to exercise all those days each week. Keep up the good work. I am sure you will be able to keep working and enjoying your job.

  • steven husted

    hi all i love this site i am told i have to have aortic valve surgery and a double bypass two blockages and aortic stenosis i am very scared of open heart surgery the more i read about the surgery the better i feel about it that is why i love this site so much i am trying to deside which valve i want either a bovine or st jude mechanicle i think the bovine will last 17 years or more but the st jude will last a life time i really do not want a second operation because i plan on living past 85 i am 65 now i know how painful a second operation can be i had two kidney operations the second was worse than the first i am so scared but i know it has to be done i think i am leaning towards the st jude i also worry about the coumadin and having another kidney operation i also know it is in the lords hands thank you lord for your many blessings please keep the post coming thank you all god bless

  • Karen

    Go for the surgery – you will be amazed how much better you feel. I had a st. Jude’s valve in 1989 and it has worked well for me. I have had surgery in 1963 & 1989 and both times I felt so much better and each year the doctors learn more and make it easier for patients. I feel so blessed to have had an extra 51 years added on to my life because of the advancements in medicine. Karen

  • Terry

    You give me hope. I will have my aortic valve replaced for the second time. The first one in 2001. I was 65 years old. The mosaic valve replacement is no longer functionning well. My age was bothering me but I read what you wrote, If you could do it so can I. Thank you. Terry

  • Samar Naqvi

    Dear, My Mummy Age 62 suffering from heart disease since two yrs doctor suggest for valve replacement Mvr or Tvr Repair ,
    Request to u kindly suggest me the best vavle used by doctor , we can replace Mechenical valve or bilogical valve suggest according to the age.

  • Robert Kacinari

    Is life expectancy the same for Valve repair as it is for Valve replacement. And why.

  • Naaz Charania

    Wow, this operation will give me my life back. The doctor will decide which valve I get, I have a great doctor from St. Paul’s Hospital. Dr Hilton Ling.

  • Ken Bosely

    Hi all my name is Ken and I am 41 on Monday 4/18/16 I will be having Heart valve replacement Surgery I was born with a bum heart with 4 leaflets I have to say yes I am scared and have some fear about life after because all my life I have done heavy Const. Working on roofs and building my fear I guess comes from the fact I have 5kids and have work for my self so long and have no saving and it scared the hell out of me of losing what we have when I am down and not know how long it will take before I can go back but at the same time I know how I must have it done I was made to stop working because I was so much a high risk of sudden death is what I was told has anyone one around my age have to have this done??

  • Marilyn

    Hello, Ken,
    I had my valve replacement surgery when I was 41. I am 64 now and will turn 65 in July. Once I had recovered from the operation, I was able to return to work full time. In fact I worked two jobs for about 20 years. I also raised my three kids and maintained a home for all of us. I was out of work for about three months afterwards, but I think the surgery has become less invasive, so it may not take that long for you. I hope the surgery went well. When you are there to see your kids graduate from high school, get married, etc. you will be so happy the opportunity to have it done was there. One thing I realized after the surgery, is that you will never take life for granted again. Treasure every day. God bless you and your family.

  • Christopher Buck

    One week ago yesterday, my wonderful lady had a heart-attack and was admitted to the hospital. The following Monday, she had an echo-cardiogram and heart cath. The echo showed she had HOCM (Hypertrophic Obstructive Cardiomyopathy), a poorly functioning aortic valve, and two obstructed coronary arteries. This past Thursday she had open heart surgery. She had two coronary artery bypass grafts, the aortic valve was replaced (she opted for a tissue valve as opposed to a mechanical one), and had the excess thicken heart muscle removed. She may still have to undergo another procedure before coming home. Because her heart had worked so hard over so many years, the muscles in the ventricles on her heart have become muscle bound. They map opt to implant a pace-maker/defibrillator to prevent any fatal arrhythmias. At this moment, she is still in the CVICU and we are hoping that she will be able to come home one week from today. However, she will stay in the hospital until her physicians and I feel she is ready to come home. So here is my question. Her road to recovery is going to be a long and very arduous one. If you have a bad aortic valve (or any bad valve for that matter), get it replaced. The alternative is not one that my lady and I would have chosen.

  • Ron Poirier

    Hello! 42 years old, just diagnosed with very mild aortic stenosis, and learned that my coronary artery calcium score is an abominable (for my age) 156. Terrified.

    I have been reading studies that seem to give a “fair” chance of living maybe 15 years after aortic valve replacement surgery, even for patients under the age of 60. Survival to 25 years (again, for patients who were under 60 when they had their AVR done) was about 20%.

    I find your graph heartening, but do not see anything on it indicating that it has anything to do with AVR survivors, and cannot find it anywhere on the St. Jude’s website. Could you please give me information on where I can find an actual study showing longevity rates that are as high as the ones you seem to be indicating here? It would help me let go of some of this stress!

  • Daniel

    Ron, my name is Daniel and I had my aortic valve replaced In May of 2015 with the On-X Mechanical valve. I had just turned 45. I had never had any health problems before and even spent 10 years in the military. I just went for a physical one day and they found a heart murmur. A few months later I was having surgery. I just thought I was getting old. I feel Much better now than I did a year or two ago.

    My dad also had his aortic valve replaced with the the St. Jude Mechanical 10 years ago and is doing fine. He just turned 71. I guess bad valves just run in the family.

    My cardiologist told me that after having this surgery I would have a normal life expectancy. That was a comfort to me.

    Also, there is a man in my church who is 88. He had his aortic valve replaced with a tissue valve in his early 50s. It only lasted 7 years before he had it replaced with a mechanical valve.

    I have never heard anything like what you have been reading about life expectancy after AVR. The mechanical valves do not have to be replaced, but tissue valves do not last that long – Even less time the younger you are.

    I would recommend a Mechanical valve. (On-X valve if that is an option.) It is newer but better made with much less chance for strokes and lower Coumadin requirements. Lower chance of bleeding and hemorrhage.

    I think that with a mechanical valve, if you just keep up with your meds, you can live a normal life. I hope that helps you!

  • devendra minda

    Hello everyone,I am 48 years old having severe aortic valve stonisis.
    I was digonosed about 25 days ago.i took consult from so many surgeon but all suggest me to have valve replacement.
    I have no other health problem.i am very much depressed after knowing this. I have never thought that I may have valve problem.i am very fit and walk everyday about 5-6 km.
    But after reading all review from this site,I again gain my confidence.
    I am going to plan my valve replaced on this coming 15th June.
    All doctors suggest me for mechanical valve..so inspite of my wish for tissue valve, mechanical valve will be used.
    I have to take life long caumadin.
    Please guide me about risk of bleeding or hemmeroge

  • Daniel

    Hi Devendra, I had my aortic valve replaced a year ago with a mechanical valve at the age of 45. I was running a few miles a week before surgery. It takes a while to recover, but after a few months you will probably feel better than ever. After a few months I was back up to running just as before.

    I would highly recommend asking your surgeon about the “On-X” mechanical valve. You can research it online. With the On-X you don’t have to be on as much Coumadin as with other mechanical valves. The material it is made from and the manufacturing process make the valve smoother, so less risk of clots forming. My INR is managed at a range between 1.5-2.5, which equates to a lower risk of bleeding. Taking Coumadin is not that bad. You just have to take it everyday and have your INR checked every 4 weeks. And there are some foods that you will have to watch out for – those high in Vitamin K. You can still eat some of them, just limit how much you eat. It did take a few weeks for me in the beginning to get my INR consistent.

    Also, be prepared for the mechanical valve making some noise. Some people cannot hear theirs. Mine is pretty loud in quiet room. It just sounds like a wrist watch. After a year it is not as loud as it was at first. It takes some getting used to, but you will. The only time mine bothers me is when I am trying to go to sleep. I just keep a small fan going in the bedroom to drown out the sound.

    Keep your pillow handy after surgery for when you sneeze or cough. Don’t rush your recovery. Walking is good, but increase gradually. I hope all goes well. God bless you.

  • devendra minda

    Thanks denial,
    Ready for operation tomorrow…

  • ロクサン ヨシコ ミユキ

    Hi my name is Roxanne, 30 years old, Filipino & live here in japan. When i was 14 years old , i had joint problems and its called arthritis i suffered that almost 2 years. And now at my age, i had my check ups & the doctor said i have mitral & aortic insufficiency. the doctor said i undergo open heart surgery. Is this possible that happen at my age? Pls help me. I am afraid, next week is my operation. What kind of valve i have to choose, the mechanical or the bioprosthetic valve? Thank you!

  • ロクサン ヨシコ ミユキ

    What valve you choose?

  • ロクサン ヨシコ ミユキ

    Hello, how’s your operation? Are you implanted an artificial valve?

  • devendra minda

    I was operated on 15th June,after three days sifted to room. Now I am feeling better,has started walking in hospital corridor.
    They put in me metallic valve.Doctor told that mine age is only 48 so it will long last for you,other than this they also told that my aortic root size is 19 mm,so have to implant metallic valve.

  • ロクサン ヨシコ ミユキ

    Good to hear that, just pray for your fast recovery.
    And me, until now i am depressed thinking for my surgery too. Next week June 28. I am 30 years old, too early to have this kind of heart disease i have two valves problem, the aortic & mitral valve & my doctor suggest a Tissue valve to replace.

  • compassn

    I’m glad I found this article and statistics because I had just read an article that had alarmed me concerning lifespan after heart valve replacement. This article had said that the average person receiving a heart valve at age 60 lives another 12 years. 🙁 would anyone want to comment on that. Here’s the link. http://www.acc.org/latest-in-cardiology/articles/2015/03/03/09/28/surgical-aortic-valve-replacement-biologic-valves-are-better-even-in-the-young-patient

  • werebat

    That life expectancy chart looks like a generic life expectancy chart for the general population. There is nothing written on it about heart valve surgery, and I could not find it anywhere on the link to St. Jude’s Medical. It also doesn’t match the data in many other studies I see online, which are less optimistic. Are you certain it pertains to heart valve recipients at all?

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