First Mechanical Heart Valve Keeps Tickin’ 38 Years Later

By Adam Pick on May 30, 2008

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!


Written by Adam Pick
- Patient & Website Founder

Adam Pick is a heart valve patient and author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery. In 2006, Adam founded HeartValveSurgery.com to educate and empower patients. This award-winning website has helped over 10 million people fight heart valve disease. Adam has been featured by the American Heart Association and The Wall Street Journal.

Adam Pick is a heart valve patient and author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery. In 2006, Adam founded HeartValveSurgery.com to educate and empower patients. This award-winning website has helped over 10 million people fight heart valve disease. Adam has been featured by the American Heart Association and The Wall Street Journal.

Adam's Newest Blogs

Adam's Newest Posts

Breakthrough Discovery: INSPIRIS RESILIA Aortic Valve Approved by the FDA Learn More.

We Rise To #2 On Feedspot’s 2018 Top Heart Blogs & Websites Rankings! Learn More.

New Community Posts

Mary says, "This is my first post. My husband had..."
Read more

Rex says, "Second day in Step Down Unit with..."
Read more

Newest Community Post

Mary says, "This is my first post. My husband had"
Read more

Rex says, "Second day in Step Down Unit with"
Read more

Bill says, "Had a high 4.4 INR yesterday. Going in"
Read more

Find Heart Valve Surgeons

Search 1,500 patient-recommended surgeons