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

Posted by Adam Pick on October 2nd, 2008

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 A dad, a husband and a patient, Adam Pick founded this website in 2006 to educate you about heart valve surgery from diagnosis to recovery.
You can get the latest updates about heart valve surgery from Adam at his Facebook, and Twitter pages. Click here to email him.


Jim Hayden says on October 2nd, 2008 at 4:03 pm

Valerie: Your question is a very good one and Adam’s answer is correct, but too simple. You have to be a very good reader and listener to understand all the statistics. The various types of replacement valves have lifetimes of their own. Some will require replacement in order for you to continue to live. For example: in 2000 I had my Calcified Aortic Valve replaced with a bovine valve. Through my surgeon’s advice I was sure that it would last 10 to 15 years, or longer. What I didn’t hear is his advice that there are statistics that show they fail anywhere from 2 to 18 years. Mine failed in 7.5 years, the statistical mean. So I had it replaced in Nov ’07 with a new and improved bovine valve.
My choice of a bovine valve is due to the fact that I do not want to deal with coumodin. My life after both surgeries is great in about 90 days. I go through re-hab and become my old self in a very short time. I played singles tennis for two hours this morning, and play twice per week. I am 71 years of age. My energy level is great and I look forward to every day. The surgery is worth it and will give you new life. Follow Adam’s advice on choosing a surgeon. God bless you, Jim Hayden


SALLY says on October 2nd, 2008 at 4:26 pm



Donald Henry says on October 2nd, 2008 at 5:32 pm

I , like Jim Hayden had my aorta valve replaced in 2000 and just visited my cardiologist and he said that I am now getting mild thickening of the leaflets. I was 55 at the time of the surgery and I am now 63 and checking Adam’s blog and various other web sites to learn of new minimally invasive techniques. I wish I had gone with the mechanical valve instead of the bovine tissue valve, because one open heart surgery is enough. Depending on how many years I have left with this bovine valve will determine which valve I get next. I know taking cumadin and having your blood tested regularly is a pain, but so is the surgery. The food thing, Valerie is that you can geet through the surgery . The 5 days in the hospital is the worse and the rest is a piece of cake. Just be prepared for some sort of depression after the operation, but that will pass. I know the anxiety you are feeling, but reading Adam’s book will give you comfort and take it from me, who hates hospital it is do-able. Good luck.



Paul says on October 2nd, 2008 at 7:25 pm

I just had my aortic valve replaced with a porcine valve four weeks ago. My condition was a bicuspid aortic valve with severe regurgitation. I was told that the degree of defect in my heart was among the worst any of my treaters had seen regardless of age (I am 42) and I was running 30 miles a week up to a five mile run the day before my surgery. with no symptoms. I intend to start work again this comng Monday and am feeling great. I am back to a fast walk of 3 miles a day as of today (main limitation is discomfort in the incision area as oposed to lack of endurance). My cardiologist and Dr. Starnes both told me that my life span wirthout the surgery could be measured in the single digits. With the replacement it would be a normal life span. Yes, I may (probably will) need another replacement given my choice, but who knows where technology will be in ten, 15 or 20 years. I went in on a Tuesday and was home by 5 pm the same Friday. This was my first trip to the hospital for ANY procedure.


Helene Victor says on October 2nd, 2008 at 7:29 pm

I had a mitral valve repair seven weeks ago and am fine. At age 66, I hope to have 20 more years of life. But the reason I had the surgery is because a month before the surgery I went into atrial fibrillation and congestive heart failure. I am now in chronic atrial fibrillation with very enlarged atria but strong ventricles. I am permanently on coumadin. ( A modified maze procedure and cardioversion had been tried during surgery and my cardiologist says the arrhythmia is permanent.) I have not seen chronic atrial fibrillation and life span addressed.
Adam, do you know anything about this?


Dave Richards says on October 2nd, 2008 at 8:19 pm

Dear Sally, We understand how you feel and it’s completely normal for you to feel that way. You took the first positive step by buying Adam’s book. It’s thorough and a good read and it will help prepare you for what’s ahead. If you’re looking for answers about how/why this happened, forget it. Childhood illness, genetics, why does it matter? The fact is you need this surgery per your doctors and you would do well to seek at least a second opinion. As Adam has always suggested, find the best surgeon you can. The wonderful news is that you have choices because there are valve surgery experts located throughout the country. Find the best you can and make sure you have confidence in them. That will be the next step in putting your mind at ease. Someone on this blog, I don’t remember who, noted that “if something were to happen to you during the operation, well, you’ll be under anesthesia and therefore, you’ll never consiously know it”. As taken aback by that statement as I was, I came to realize the absolute truth in those words. It’s not about the operation you’re facing Sally, it’s about the quality of the life that you’ll enjoy after your surgery. I was told by my doctors that if I did nothing to repair my severely leaky mitral and tricuspid valves, I would die. My lungs were filling up with fluid, my extremeties were swelling with edema…I was dying! I am almost 90 days past surgery, 52 years old and I feel like I’m 35. Find the inner strength to push your anger and fear aside. Get busy putting your ducks in a row, find the right hospital and surgical team for YOU and after that Sally — rest easy dear. My whole experience was 70% better than I thought it would be. I promise you, yours will be too. You’ll be back running and walking in a very short time.


randi says on October 3rd, 2008 at 4:44 am

My husband had mitral valve repair done 5 years ago. We are now told he has mitral stenosis. This is very very rare after repair we are told. He is looking at having another open heart surgery with valve replacement this time. I am scared to death. What does this mean to his long term health and life span? I would appreciate input from anyone with good news about this situation. I am terrified for him.


Jim Cummings says on October 3rd, 2008 at 5:05 pm

Dear Sally, As Dave stated, your response is normal. The thing to remember is that life happens to all of us. We are all either entering a storm, currently in a storm or coming out of a storm. The difference is how each of us reacts in times of trouble. Don’t look for blame, you have to learn to accept what you cannot change. As already stated, your reponse is “normal” but you cannot dwell on the negative. Maybe this is just what you need to become stronger. I know that my health has changed for the better due to having my aortic valve replaced. And just so you’ll know, God is where He’s always been, waiting on us to trust in Him completely.


Becca Allison says on October 3rd, 2008 at 7:43 pm

Valerie and Sally,
You’ve come to the right place for questions and good answers! All of us have been there and we don’t want anyone to be scared!
As for me, I had my aortic valve replaced ten weeks ago. I am 56 and had no symptoms – regular doctor just heard a heart murmur last year. I was in the Army for 22 years, running and all that. Surgeon said that two leaflets on my valve had fused, for some reason,and the valve needed replacing.
I won’t tell you there was no pain, but it was at all times bearable and gets better all the time. I stopped myself from thinking too hard about the carved up part! I am just so glad to have a new part!
It’s like when you get a new fuel injector on your car – the whole motor runs better! I am walking several miles each morning and plan on running soon. I am back at work – and I drive an 18 wheeler! – this week.
Sally – where’s God? Right here in this blog and in Adam’s book. God can’t, by the way he set up His world, keep everything bad from happening to us. Wouldn’t work if we were just puppets. Accidents and illness happen to good folks and bad. But the ones who reach out to others find immense comfort there. One thing I did during recovery when I was tempted to feel sorry for myself was to go visit folks who were hospitalized or in nursing homes! They were much worse off!
We know it’s hard. But reach out, let others help you and help whomever you can. Soon you’ll be on this blog telling others it wasn’t so bad! Read Dave Richards’ words again – he’s right on! Keep us posted as to how you are doing. There are very nice people here.
Keeping you in my prayers,


BOBBIE says on October 8th, 2008 at 10:18 am



mercy turan says on October 8th, 2008 at 10:39 pm

Dear Sally, I know how dark and overwhelming life can turn when we receive news as significant and scary as you have. My son, John, was living and enjoying life at a clip, and on Feb 1st of this year, it all came to a schreeching halt. He was told he needed immediate sugery to replace a calcified, very narrow bicuspid aortic valve and on top of that, needed to repair a significant aneurysm (a near blow out spot) in his ascending aorta, the artery that feeds blood to the head and brain from the heart. Imagine that, married only 3 years, at 36 years of age, with young family to care for! And Mom and Dad (us) were thrown into the same pit of despair along with them.

We cried so much we couldn’t sleep, eat, barely made it throught the motions of every day, having, all of us, responsible jobs that we had to pay attention to, especially when we would be faced with a multitude of expenses soon. We spent endless hours searching and researching, looking (and overlooking), on the phone, online, at doctors offices and inquiring from everyone who would listen. We were miserable and we were getting sik from it. One day, at about 2 in the morning, I was exhausted with red eyes from crying, and tired of thinking and praying, I too asked, God, where are you now that we need you so. Surprisingly, I moved my tired hands back on my keyboard, and clicked once more on “heart valves” topics. As if to say, “here I am”, “I am here to hold you up all night long so you can do this I am here so I can give you strength so you can go to your nursing job tomorrow with only a couple hours of sleep and still make it through the day. I am here so you can hide your fear from your son and smile at him and assure him all will be alright. And just then, Adam’s website appeared on screen, his handsome face on a little square on the upper left hand corner, his book in front of me. I cried once more because I felt as though warm arms were embracing me and I felt as though God had taken my shoulders and turned me and said “here, this is where I want you to look, here”, and “here I am , with you, as I have always been, waiting for you to recognize that I am always with you.”

From then on, I am not going to say it was easy, but we were able to do the best we could to find a surgeon, a hospital, to make it through the most difficult thing we have gone through in our lives, and yet to learn that most things are not under our control and that those things we had to let go and let God. From that moment, a peace I canot describe carried us through. Today, 6 months later, John has had his six months checkup and echo cardiogram. I hear his heart’s “lob-dob” sounds as I never heard it before, no whooosh, no blow, no pounding, And I know that God is there too.

I encourage you to change your point of view to : Wow, how lucky I am that I live in these times, where something can be done about my heart and I can continue to live my life (after a short rest!) to serve others who may need my encouragment too. How blessed you are! It will help you move from victim to victorious!!!

God Bless You dear, do your research to the best of your ability and trust in Him. You will do fine when you have a positive mind.

Mercy (mother of John, Ross Procedure March 5,2008, University of Florida/ Shands Hosp. )–look up on search box: JOHN TURAN–and you will read a happy story!

For you Sally, God was there with you when you were told you need to have surgery now. He could have been somewhere else and you could have gone along with a sick heart until one day it gave out, without the wonderful opportunity to get a new chance.


Winona Blake says on October 9th, 2008 at 11:03 pm

Hi, I haven’t been on the website for awhile, as I had my severely regurgitating mitral valve repaired 3 weeks ago – two leaflets were involved (Barlow’s valve disease). I am 71 yo and had a murmur all my life, was diagnosed in the 70′s with mitral valve prolapse when the echocardiogram machine became available. In June I was informed that I was a candidate for repair surgery, and started doing research. The best advice I found was from Adam’s book and articles on repair that stressed the importance of getting the repair done at a: 1) center of excellence, 2) that does high volume repairs, and 3) by a mitral valve repair expert, meaning that he has done 100 – 200 repairs as opposed to replacements.
I started by googling “centers of excellence for mitral valve repair” and began my education. The sharing on this website has been helpful and encouraging.
I was able to get the repair and with minimally invasive robot assisted surgery. I have been told that I am now healthier than I have ever been. I’m looking forward to starting Cardiac Rehab to condition my heart and body. I am walking daily, and feeling stronger each day.
My understanding is that after MV repair one has a normal life expectancy.


Thomas F. Randall says on October 20th, 2008 at 7:54 pm

I had valve replacement in February of 2007,since surgery i can’t do the stuff I use to I get out breath,stat sweating if i do anything strenious,an dhave had heart attack since,this past june,while i was in hospital in Ohio the cardiologist there ran some test,said my valve may not be big enough for my body size,also I had mechanical valve pu tin,my parents wanted me to get 3 or 4 opinions,but being stubborn,I wanted i tdon’t right away,now at 36,I can’t work an dstill get some pain,especially when I cough or sneeze? Any sugestions? Very Depressed,for now i find out the hospital i had surgery is no teven in top 50 percent of hospitals who specialize in this type surgery.Very upset,so is my parents,not workin gwaiting for social Security.


Anthony Kirwan says on October 23rd, 2008 at 4:54 pm

i have had an aortic valve replacement at the age of 33.It was out of the blue though i had noticed some shortness of breath. I was sitting at home watching tv when i got a sharp pain in my throat followed by pains in my teeth and back followed up by loss of use of my arm and leg on the left side, this was at the end of march 08 and recovery has been slow but i am getting there, i had a mechanical valve inserted or should i say the surgeons had it inserted, these are great people the brought me back from the brink of death,have just got my blood to stabilise and the only question i cant get an answere to is how long will the mechanical valve last. Thank You For Your Ear


Tami Crum says on November 16th, 2008 at 7:49 pm

Adam,you are great.My Question is are there things that you can do that will damage your valve?Mine is a ST.Jude I had it replaced Feb.19th 2001 at the age of 41.Thank You,Tami Crum


Kathy Claflin says on December 29th, 2008 at 9:38 pm

My 17 yr. old Son, Tristan, went into A-fib in Feb. of ’08 and was rushed to the emergency room at a hospital. He thought that he was congested, and coming down with the flu. Up until that time, he had always been a picture of health and he didn’t even have a family physician. After many tests were done in the Intensive Care Dept. by a Cardiologist, we found out that Tristan has Bicuspic Aortic Valve, and it’s leaking. His Aortic root has gone from mildy leaking in Feb. to moderately leaking in August. It is only a matter of time before he has to have his Aortic Valve either repaired or replaced. As if that isn’t enough of a nightmare, another dillema is that Tristan is only a Senior in High School, and after he graduates from College, he’ll no longer be able to stay covered under mine & my Ex-Husband’s medical insurance. I don’t believe that any future employer of Tristan’s is ever going to cover his congenital heart condition (pre-existing), so if he has a mechanical heart valve he will have to pay for Coumadin out of his own pocket for the rest of his life. Does anyone know if there is any type of assistance with medical bills in a situation like this? It’s very discouraging to Tristan, who is very intelligent, because he knows that even if he gets an excellent job after he graduates from College, that most of his paycheck will go towards medical bills, due to no health insurance coverage. I am 52 yrs. old, and I won’t rest until I find a solution to Tristan’s medical care coverage (or lack of), because it’s just not fair for him to have to face this medical ins. problem, in addition to having to undergo open heart surgery, probably before his next birthday. If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know. Any and ALL prayers are greatly appreciated too! I feel like I’m having a nervous breakdown, and I would gladly trade places with Tristan without hesitation, if I only could!


David Tagliaferri says on December 30th, 2008 at 9:01 pm

Tristan will not be without insurance, as if he is covered today by yourself or your husband, he will simply transfer to his own without the pre existing coverage of one year being enforced. If he is not currently insured when he does get insured he will have to go through 1 year of his insurance not covering him for a year. On the nice side of this is coumadin is cheap at 16 dollars a month, and even the cardiologist visits for his coumadin levels which are needed, are at 40 dollars a month. Also under the law they cannont refuse him insurance for his medical problems, but they can have the pre existing conditions for a year enforced. I suspect you have insurance already for him, so he is covered until he gets his own job, or turns 25.


Holly McGreevy says on January 20th, 2009 at 1:17 pm

My husband is 31 years old and had his mirtal valve replaced with a bovine valve in May 2007. He had a follow up ECHO last week that show he has slight calcification or narrowing of the valve. Does anyone know what this means? Is this a normal or a complication? Any input would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!


Ron says on February 5th, 2009 at 4:08 pm

I’ve had my aorta valve replaced 3 times. The first time when I was 27. That valve came loose after 7 years. I was aware of the symptoms and made it to the hospital in time. That valve lasted 23 years and it too came loose. Luckily, I was able to get the help I needed and had it replaced. I am now 61 and have had three pacemakers installed. They too wear and the newer ones are so much better. While I must admit I have had my share of problems, my outlook has never changed. I feel like I have been blessed with a good life and have done everything I wanted. You will have certain limitations, learn them and accept them. I have been on Coumadin since 1977 and by continuing to follow my regular blood test, no problem. I think if you need to have it, go into the surgery with a positive attitude. Don’t try to be your own doctor, it’s not worth it. Good luck to you, stay positive.


D says on March 23rd, 2009 at 3:39 pm

Hi Everyone,

Your advice would be greatly appreciated:

I’m 28 years of age and was given a new aortic mechanical heart valve in October 2008. Before the surgey I was told that I had severe regurgitation, and stenosis was severe. I was still able to run around the football pitch and run for miles and only experienced the odd shortness of breath which was completely normal to me. My condition is a congenital one and I am a healthy wait and eat what I would consider to be a balanced and healthy diet.

For the first time since my surgery I have started to get some shortness of breath again. Pretty much the same feeling I had before the operation, but It only tends to happen in the evening when I’m sat on the sofa or lying in bed. It’s enough to worry me but I’m not sure if I’m being paranoid!

I have started jogging again at a reasonable pace twice a week but limiting myself to 4 miles which I do in about 28 minutes. Each time I run I continue to cough for around 20 minutes after the run, no fluid but a wheezing type of cough. This happens after every run. (never had this before).

I have a check up coming up soon and I’m sure all is well but I just wondered if anyone else experiences this? I am on warfarin for life and my INR range is consistantly in range. Are my side effects as a consequence of the warfarin????

Your views and advice would be greatly appeciated.

Thanks everyone,


Mary says on March 23rd, 2010 at 9:40 am

My name is Mary and my 19 year old son Danny has to have open heart surgery to repair a defective aorta valve. He was born with mild aortic stenosis which had remained mild for his entire life, till now. He has even developed a regurgitation problem and some dialation. We are still in shock. I have spent countless hours surfing the net for answers to the millions of questions that keep going through my mind. I purchased Adam’s book and am encouraged but still frightened for my son. We finally have selected a Surgeon, and thank-you to Adam for easing my mind by sending out an e-mail within a day of our selection that told of an award she had recently received. I felt that was God’s way of letting me know we had made a good choice. My son is suffering from bad insomnia (which I now know is very common). He has a lot of anxiety (me, too) but I’m trying to be strong and positive for him. I’m thank-ful that he has a condition that is correctible with surgery but wish I could spare him all he will have to go thru. It was an AGONIZING decision as to what type of valve to select but I trusted our surgeon’s decision to go with the Freestyle valve because my son is SO SO SO active. Even prior to surgery, he plays basket ball for hours (his love of his life), walks 10 – 15 miles daily and does 500 sit ups and God knows how many push ups a day. It makes this mother a nervous wreck. He has NO symptoms and believes the doctors are mistaken. We have had second and third opinions and unfortunately he needs the surgery. Does anyone have experience with this free-style valve? I would love to hear your experience. My son is so young and my heart is breaking for him. I wish I could have the surgery for him. I even offered my valve to the doctors. They told me it was very heroic and unethical. It is not heroic at all; any mother would do the same. Keeping the faith. Mary


Lacy says on April 17th, 2010 at 7:52 am

my hubby just had this procedure but he got the mechanical valve he is young and they really dont want to open him up every 10 years to relace a bovine or cadaver valve being only 23 so he chose the mechanical they said this valve could last forever but and a big but their could be complications with any foreigh material you put into your body i mean just because it was replaced doesnt mean it cant get calcified or infected witch could happen to any normal person the point is is any little infection even if its just a boil should be treated immidiately because if it were to spread back to the heart that would be bad bad news im not a doctor but i have been listening to them for 3 weeks about this and thats what i have to say


Robert Kirk says on October 17th, 2010 at 3:15 am

I have just been informed I need an angiogram to find out the severeness of my aortic valve being narrowed. The cardiologist said after that they he would discuss what other items may need to be repaired, or work on. I am not concern with the operation, even though it is a serious one, but more with the options of a biological valve or mechanical one. I am 58 years old, and have a 5 year old son. I am leaning toward the mechanical valve, but don’t like the idea of blood possibly clotting. After reading the various comments on this page, I am wondering if the bovine valves have improved, or is it still a 2-8 year working type valve? I want to spend a few more years with my children two girls 22 and 20, and my 5 year old son without needing another operation too soon. Also, is it unreal to be able to be back to work in 4-6 weeks? I am happy to have found this website. thank you everyone for putting your comments here.


Connie Eclar says on February 6th, 2011 at 4:41 am

Great news!!! Most of the bloggers said good things about heart valve repair/replacement. I’m happy for you guys. I wish i could have the means to finance similar operation for myself. You see i have severe mitral and aortic stenosis (0.7cm2)and my cardiologist advised me to undergo valve replacement (ASAP)but i cannot afford to pay for the operation because i belong to the family of financially underprivileged here in the Philippines. Maybe you know how poor is poor in the third world countries. But i’m not giving up, especially after reading the testimonies of those who went for the operation. I’ll try to find some foundations or organizations who would be willing to sponsor my operation.


Tammy says on March 16th, 2011 at 9:30 pm



prashant says on March 17th, 2011 at 10:34 am

I am 35 year old man, i was treated my mitral valve through balloon valvotomy arround 12 years back and i was taking lanoxin and duretic tablet daly. Now I have been diagnostic that my same mitral valve is mild stenosis (area 1.58 cm2) and have calcified tip. My aortic valve is trileaflet and thickened having moderate leakage (LA/AO = 1.6).Left ventricle is normal but left atrium is dilated and left atrial appendage and left artrial is overloaded. wall motion and ejection fraction are normal. Now a days I am feeling palpitation regularly (pulse rate around 80 at rest and 100 after meal). one doctor says I have moderate heart failure and need my valve replacement soon. Another doctor says that no need for it now and can wait for few years.I am confused and fed-up with my palpitation.what is the life expectancy with moderate heart failure along with this type of valve problem without valve replacement and with valve replacement?Kindly reply…


Ernie Castillo says on April 22nd, 2011 at 5:29 am

Adam: I had my aortic valve replaced May 5 1988 at the age of 34. I celebrate my anniversary next month. I am an active cyclist. My goal is to set the Guiness Book of World Records for longest living recipient of a St. Jude valve. I don’t know how many “youngins” had an AVR surgery prior to 1988 but I have to be up among the leaders.


anie licuanan says on May 16th, 2011 at 2:25 am

my cardio told me last october that i would need to undergo mitral and aortic valve replacement, not very soon but eventually, i just have to wait. I cried a long time that night and i cant sleep. Then i prayed that when that time comes, that God will prepare me financially, emotionally, mentally and most important spiritually. Above all the financial readiness, i want God to prepare my spirit, that i would be very looking forward to wake up and live my life again after the operation. There would be times when I would get too scared about this that i would burst into tears, but then I would always find strength in trusting God. He will not give me something I cant handle, I would often tell myself that. One thing that scares me the most, is how long will I live after the surgery? And after reading your comments, I already thanked God that I would be one among you who will enjoy life to the fullest after the operation. If God did those amazing things to all of you, I know He would also gladly do it for me. I’m glad I came into this website. I dont know when my surgery will be, but what i know is, when the time comes, God would make me ready.


Alesia says on June 1st, 2011 at 4:07 pm

Hi there! Not sure if anyone can help me…have to call my Dr. soon as possible and tell him,if i want to go with a mechanical or bovine. I have a 60percent chance in him fixing it but just in case, they might have to replace it. I have 3 kids and is scared of this whole thing! Cannot make a desion. Dr. wants me to go for a mechanical valve cause of my age. I was thinking before the Dr. mentioned a mechanical that i would go with a bovine and in 10 yrs when my life settles down switch to a mechanical valve? I have a problem with my wish, against a doctors. And cannot get past the why me? poor me? What about my kids when i am in surgury? oh theres more…does anyone feel like me?


jeff says on June 1st, 2011 at 8:13 pm

I wrote first and looked second. Amazing how after my dr told me to see Dr Makkar, after the echo I get next week, I googled his name and opened up this site first. so lucky I live in LA and have health ins and can get it done at Cedars. I see people all over the world aganozing over how to pay and what to do and who to ask and even though I have some great options, Im still petrified and worried for me, my wife and son and everything else. I am happy to know what I know and to live where I live and I salute you Adam for being willing to help people by giving those with this problem a place to speread life and hope. keep it up. How you doing?


Ernie Castillo says on June 3rd, 2011 at 10:13 am

A few years ago, a friend sought advice because of an impending heart surgery. Through our research, we learned of the One Valve For Life philosophy. Bottom line: plan to do it once, avoid re-dos. So based on many factors, including age, make your decision based on the surgery being a one-time deal. I have had my St. Jude valve for 23 years and treat Coumadin as a necessity of life. Take it every day, test frequently. Another friend is undergoing AVR surgery in July. She apparently took my advice and is opting for a mechanical valve.


Alesia says on June 3rd, 2011 at 12:22 pm

Hey there! Thanks Ernie for confusing me some more! just joking! I do agree on a one-time deal. But i am 38 yrs. and dealing with other issues to my health. I went to my Dr. and he can deal with my monthly issue alot better with a bovine valve. Apart of me wants to only have one surgery! Well i guess you don’t know if you had made the right decision until after. I wish i had more time to decide. I run a daycare and have a 4 yr.old and 2 teen boys! By the time kids are picked up and dinner is made i am so tired and in bed. I try to think that at least i have a chance to get well and there are others that do not. Trying to stay strong!


DARYL JEAN says on July 21st, 2011 at 2:58 pm

hi i had my mitral valve replacement surgery just last year March 6, 2010. i could not forget that day….it was so scary and was scared to die…it was a mechanical valve replaced on me because of my mitral valve stenosis……i thought of so many things about life..and how long will i live…but i am happy to read all the comments here.. and greatful that i am not alone with this illness… well i just live my life to the fullest and im always thinking that everyday is a precious gift from god that we shouldn’t waste.. thank you……


Carolyn says on July 23rd, 2011 at 7:43 pm

My husband is 70 years old and just underwent his third valve replacement(main aortic valve). This time he had no choice his cardio dr said he had to have the St. Jude mechanical valve. The reason he never wanted the mechanical valve was because they said you would be able to hear it clicking as it worked and he did not think he could live with hearing it. Well he had his surgery July 6th he got out the hospital on July 13th, is doing wonderful and doesn’t hear the valve clicking, God and his doctors are great. His advise to anyone having these procedures is to do the breathing in that silly plastic incentive spirometer and walk as much as possible and hold onto that pillow when you cough or sneeze it really helps. Today is a little over 2 weeks since his surgery and we even went out to eat lunch and shopped a bit.


Roger Bullock says on August 2nd, 2011 at 12:36 am

To reply to Ernie,
Doctors discovered my blocked Aorta in 1953 when I was 2.I started dying late 1971 and had the bottom of the valve cut off in 1972.( I was told this will last 20 years). In 1998 I started dying again and had a St Jude Aortic Valve replacement. I don’t understand people who traumatise over this sort of thing.It is an operation to save your life. They should be thanking the surgeon not God.


Roger Bullock says on August 5th, 2011 at 12:50 am

I never hear mine clicking, though my wife and son will sometimes complain they can hear it while watching TV


Michelle says on August 7th, 2011 at 2:35 am

Hi, I just had an aortic valve replacement April 20 2011, it’s coming up 4 mos ago. I continue to have a BNP up in the400′s(!) and my tricuspid is leaking …probably radiation for Hodgkins 40 years ago. My liver is enlarged and you can definitely feel a pulse there. Have hip replacements so walking exercise is painful… Had fib in the hospital with cardioversion. Now I’m wondering…uh, with CONGESTIVE HEART FAILURE signs like this, shouldn’t I be getting some work done on my tricuspid valve???????? My Dr. Didn’t even want me to have AVR…went from.8cm- 2.3cm so I THINK I needed that new one…!!!!! My Dr. Doesn’t like to tell me bad news…like, say, my BNP numbers… So how do I find out what my heart is REALLY up to? This anxiety surely is BAD for my heart!!? Michelle


Scott Chapman says on August 12th, 2011 at 4:15 am

I had emergency open heart surgery to have aortic valve replacement two years ago (September 2009) at age 48. I did not have time to ask a lot of questions or worry about the future, only had time to tell sergeon I wanted to have the mechanical valve from St Judes because I only wanted to go through this type of surgery one time. I have not had any complications, I take medications daily, live a normal life, and still continue to work an average of 12 hours a day–6 days a week at a job that demands for you to be in top physical shape. I thank all of my cardiologist, surgeons and God every day, if not for all of them, I would not be here today.


oswald menezes says on August 21st, 2011 at 2:04 am

I had (46 years age) my AVR done on 1st july 2011 at Jeslok hosital, mumbai. Dr Arun Mehra, cardiac surgion has done my proceedure. I had been diagonised with bicuspid aortic valve 8 years back. Over the year the condition had worsened from mild to severe stenosis. After 9 weeks of operation i am feeling much better.The clicking sound of valve is also not bothering me much. Hope i would be back to my earlier life as soon as possible


Clark says on November 6th, 2011 at 7:50 pm

I had a mitral valve replacement two years ago, when I was 56 years old. I will never do it again. I would rather just die. I feel bad all the time and all the drugs distroyed my kidneys. so now my kidneys are shot, I feel like im 100 years old. The good thing about life is that it ends, bovine valve or not. I only wish I didnt get the replacement.


Ernie Castillo says on November 18th, 2011 at 4:32 pm

Clark: I am so sorry to hear of your situation. But for all of those that read this discussion thread, I do believe your situation is the exception, not the rule. I had my aortic valve replaced in 1988 at age 34. This year, I bicycled over 2,600 miles. Valve replacement surgery is a lot better than the alternative which, for me, was calculated as a 5% chance of dying in my sleep.


Carolyn says on November 27th, 2011 at 2:01 am

My husband wishes that he would have had the St. Jude valve put in 10 years ago it would have saved him having his last surgery. He is 70 and he feels great and is doing great. It has been almost 5 months and he is doing everything and anything he feels like doing.


Wally Rowland says on December 4th, 2011 at 8:56 pm

I had aortic valve replacement in june of 2o11 at St. marys in duluth,Mn.I am 60 yrs of age.I feel great, had mechanical valve put in.Am on coumadin for rest of life, small price to pay to be alive.Am forever greatful to my surgeon, Dr.Konda and staff at hospital.I was in hospital for app. 5 days, with no complications.I now walk daily and work out 3 days a week.Again i thank God and all those wonderful people who helped me.Good luck to all who are in need of heart valve replacements.Do not be afraid , it really is well worth it.


Barbara says on December 6th, 2011 at 8:09 pm

Three years ago I crashed my car whilst driving home from work, very tired after a long and difficult day as a supply teacher. I thought I had probably nodded off momentarily. My husband made me visit our GP who found I had a heart murmur when he listened to my chest. That was the first shock. That set off a barrage of tests which concluded that I had moderate to severe aortic stenosis caused by the valve being bicuspid. The consultant said I would need surgery in 10, 15 or 20 years time – second shock! The following two years saw a very slight deterioration and the consultant began talking about ‘finding the optimum time to operate’. This year, huge shock, the stenosis is now critical and I need the valve replaced now. My reaction was to say ‘no way’ as at no time have I had any symptoms. I feel like they may as well be telling me they want to cut off my right arm. I feel that I can’t live with the scar (I have a lot of deep seated body issues and insecurities) and, quite frankly, the thought of dropping down dead is a lot less scary than the thought of the op and its resulting scar. I still feel like that but my husband and children have forced me to agree to the op and I now wait for a date with the surgeon. I feel like I have just got on a roller-coaster and just want to scream to get off. To say that I am terrified does not begin to describe how I feel. It is good to read of so many positive experiences but I don’t know how I am going to get over my very real fears.


Carolyn says on December 22nd, 2011 at 4:57 pm

Barbara, my husband would faint at the sight of a cut or needle, he has had his third open heart surgery the last one they put him a St. Jude mechanicl aortic valve because his other bovine valve failed. His scar is just a small line. After three he thought it would be big but it is not. They used inside stitches and he had no staples on the outside. Now a days medical procedures are so advanced they really do wonders. It is easy for us to say you should not be afraid but as my husband always says he would rather have a heart problem doctors can fix the heart like new, but if you get cancer they are still working on that!!!! My husbands first surgery he did not want to look at his cut and when he had the other two he looked at them right away to see how well they had done. Our prayers are with you and your family.


Victor says on December 31st, 2011 at 4:37 am

Hi, i’m 20 years old and i was diagnosticated with prolapse of mitral valve with severe regurgitation third degree and tricuspid insufficiency grade 1. All doctors that consulted me say that i need to be operated as soon as posibile. Now i sit in bed every day because i feel really bad and dizzy because of my heart and my body condition. I’m on a treatment now with diazepam and verapamil but these meds gives me a state like i’m drugged. I don’t know why all of this happens to me because i never did bad things to no one, i helped people every time i could with money, food or what they needed, but i think that’s my destiny to suffer. My mom doesn’t have money for surgery and i don’t know anyone else that could help me because i live only with her, my father left us when i was 11 years. I don’t have ensurance and my mom pays all my investigations and others…if there is someone that could and wants to make my life as before having this heart issue contact me at viktorhk (at) yahoo (dot) com. If there are people with good soul please msg me. I will respond to everyone! Thanks! God bless you!


Dave K says on January 4th, 2012 at 10:34 am

Here’s my advice and insight for anyone looking at valve replacement. I had a St. Jude put in about 3 years ago and I’m now 60. I went with mechanical because I did not want to do it again in 7-10 years, plus I’m still kosher! The most pain I experienced was about 3 weeks after surgery when I tried to ride my lawn mower on bumpy grass. Yes, I had trouble sleeping due to the clicking, but now its a great party trick. I let all the cute ladies listen. There is another brand valve designed that is quiter and is being tested that may not require coumidin, too. Yes there is depression after the surgery, but you get over that, especpially if you are aware it could arise.

I had been an expert downhill skier who went where less than 5% of the skiers in North America would go. Today I can still attack expert runs, only not quit the same degree of difficulty. I still cross country ski as far and long as anyone with no problem. Due to the procedure (you’re literally dead, no heart-lung machine, for 20-30 minutes) I had some temporary memory loss and I’m not quite as sharp at work. I deal with that. The very best advice is continue aerobic exercise on your own after rehab.

I thank God every day for my life. It is better than before. I have a new perspective. Never feel sorry for yourself when we have medicine that has advanced so far. If there is a downside to this procedure, I have no idea what it might be.

And Ernie, it is my goal to set the Guinness record for longest living recipient of a St. Jude valve, so step aside.


Jo India says on March 3rd, 2012 at 12:31 pm

Hi! I was diagonized with severe mitral heart valve prolapse with severe regurgitation 7 years ago in 2005 at the age of 41. The doctor then told me I needed immediate surgery to replace the leaky valve. For different reasons I have never been to a doctor since. However recently I decided to do an echo, only to find that though I have been asymptomatic all this time, my left atrium and left ventricle have greatly enlarged and the leaflets of my mitral, tricuspid and aorta valves have all thickened. I might now need the valve/s replaced, I’m not sure. But one thing I know is that if one decides to look at things from a positive perspective, things don’t look as bad as they seem. The Bible tells us to “thank God in every situation”, 1 Thes 5:18. Since my valve disorder I’ve actually started praying for people’s healing and even though my condition one can say has worsened, I’ve seen physical miracles in others. Something that I might not have witnessed if I didn’t have the problem. I know for certain that the Almighty does exist and he can intervene if He chooses to. I’m thankful to God for giving me this sickness as because of it, I started reaching out to others and came to know that there is indeed a power that can come to our aid if we seek for Him. Absolutely no regrets for the valve disorder. In fact I’ve often thanked Him for letting me see a different dimension of life because of it. Love and blessings. Jo


Ernie Castillo says on May 15th, 2012 at 5:04 am

I am going to repost something I put on my Facebook page May 5, which marked the 24th anniversary of my aortic valve replacement.
Today is Cinco de Mayo, the Fifth of May, a day many Americans celebrate Mexican heritage and pride and many more use as an excuse to drink margaritas and dine at Taco Bell. For me, it’s a day I celebrate life, more specifically the beginning of my second life. For on this day, in 1988, in a Southern California hospital, a doctor held my diseased heart in his hands, skillfully carved out a malfunctioning aortic valve and replaced it with a mechanical one made of polycarbonate and coated with Teflon. 24 years. Talk about exceeding expectations. I am going to enjoy 2 of my passions today, bicycling in the morning, cantoring at church in the evening. In between I will reflect on everything that God has done for me and try, as I always do, to testify to His glory and mercy.


Karen says on October 2nd, 2012 at 11:46 am

This has been interesting reading. I hope all of you are doing fine. I had rheumatic heart disease as a child, thus heart surgery on my nearly closed mitral valve in 1963. It was still in the pioneering stage back then. The doctor did a commiserotomy which means that he just cut open the valve and allowed extra for scar tissue.. It was a whole new life for me and I felt very blessed to enjoy and celebrate each day. As the years went on I had 5 children with absolutely no problems. About 20 years passed and I was told that it would close again. I had 1 more child. Then in 1989 I had surgery again, this time receiving a St. Jude’s Valve. It’s been 23 years so Dave, I hope you make it to 80 or more. I would encourage anyone to have heart surgery. Doctors are experts at it and you will feel so much better. The coumadin is not a big deal. I have been on it for 24 years now. I have had other surgeries and doctors know how to handle it all very well. I feel very blessed to live in such an age of medicine. My life has been very rich and full: I have my 6 children, a wonderful husband, 24 years of teaching school. I know that God loves me and has watched over me for my 63 years, as He does for each of you. May He continue to bless all of us.


Stanley Ather says on May 12th, 2013 at 2:41 pm

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 says on May 24th, 2013 at 10:25 am

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


Jacqueline Mongeot says on August 12th, 2013 at 3:44 pm

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 says on August 13th, 2013 at 10:39 pm

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 says on June 1st, 2014 at 7:11 pm

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 says on June 2nd, 2014 at 10:45 pm

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 says on June 14th, 2014 at 10:45 am

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 says on July 1st, 2014 at 10:13 am

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 says on July 3rd, 2014 at 9:33 pm

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


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