“How Many Aortic Valve Replacement Surgeries Are Performed Each Year?” Asks Tina

By Adam Pick on March 7, 2009

What a week for those interested in the topic of heart valve surgery!!!

First, we learned that Barbara Bush was recovering from aortic valve replacement! Then, news reports started buzzing about Robin Williams’ need for heart valve surgery on his aortic valve.

As a result, my email inbox has been flooded with interesting questions about all types of heart valve surgery – especially aortic valve replacement.


Aortic Valve Replacement – Positioning A Prosthetic Valve


One of the questions comes from Tina about the frequency of aortic valve replacement. She writes, “Hi Adam – I’ve been diagnosed with aortic stenosis, like Barbara Bush, and will need surgery soon. I’m a fit, 63-year old grandmother and have never had any medical procedures before this. I’m scared but learning lots through your blog and book. One thing I’m curious to know is how many aortic valves are replaced each year?

Tina raises a great question. In fact, leading up to my own aortic valve replacement surgery in 2005, I wanted an answer to this exact same question. Robyn, my wife, and I scrubbed the Internet searching for clues. (To help you learn more about AVR, click here.)

We learned that there are many different, published estimates for this question. The data we found suggested the number of aortic valve replacements performed across the world ranged from 15,000 to 40,000 each year.

Recently, however, I learned that the American Heart Association (AHA) released their own estimate for the yearly number of aortic valve replacement performed only in the United States. According to the AHA, the annual number of aortic valves replaced in 2007 was 17,592.



That said, aortic valve procedures are fairly routine. You should know, however, that this number is likely to skyrocket in the future due to the aging of the population. For the next 20 years or so, over 76 million Baby Boomers are turning 60 and beyond.

I hope that helped Tina (and perhaps you) learn more about aortic valve replacement surgery.

Keep on tickin!

Written by Adam Pick
- Patient & Website Founder

Adam Pick, Heart Valve Patient Advocate

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 Medical News Today.

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 Medical News Today.

Joan Parkinson says on March 7th, 2009 at 7:47 pm

Hi. I am a 67 year old grandmother and it is now 5 1/2 weeks since my aortic valve replacement. Prior to this week I had to explain to everyone just what I had done but everyone is now aware with the news of Barbara Bush and Robin Williams.

I just want to say to Tina if you are healthy now is the time to have it done. I came through with flying colors, no complications. My scar has healed well. I was off narcotic pain killers after two weeks, just taking regular Tylenol.
Although I am not driving yet and sitting in the back seat away from the airbag with my pillow between me and the seat belt I am getting out to lunch with friends and even went to the Home Show today.
Good Luck. Joan Parkinson

Donna Schwed says on March 7th, 2009 at 8:54 pm

I am 63 old grandmother who will be seeking advise of surgeon next week
regarding possible heart valve surgery (replacement or repair). I never experienced shortness of breath, I exersize regularly and I feel OK. My cardiologist however advised me to contact surgeon for advise, because my valve leak is significant. Of course I am not feeling too comfortable about it, and I am rather scared…
I wish Great Lady Barbara Bush speedy recovery and of course our wonderful comedian Robin Williams too.
Donna Schwed

Richard Holoubek says on March 10th, 2009 at 6:09 pm

Tina.. I had AVR (Aortic Valve Replacement) on February 25… two weeks ago tomorrow. I am at home and have been off of all pain medication, including Tylenol for the past 4 days. I attribute this to Faith and my general physical condition. Don’t get me wrong… I am 5’10” and 206 lbs. I can stand to lose 26 pounds! and look forward to it as I grow stronger everyday. The worst part of the operation, for me so far, has been trying to cough and/or sneeze without pain.
It’s O.K. to be scared. Lord knows I was. I worked with the best Cardiologist for over 8 years monitoring my condition. I knew about it for over 20 years. My Cardiologist and I picked what we believed to be the best surgeon and never looked back. It will be the most difficult emotional and physical experience of your life… but you will survive to share the wonders of modern medicine.. especially the miracle of heart surgery. Just remember to pay the experience forward to those who, like you, might be very anxious and scared. All of my best to you in the future!
AVR 2/25/09 Massachusetts General Hospital
Dr. Thomas MacGillivary Surgeon (THE MAN!!!)

Midge says on March 10th, 2009 at 8:28 pm

Tina and Barbara:
I had an aortic valve replaced Feb. 13th and couldn’t be happier with the result. The most taxing decision of the whole procedure is tissue versus mechanical valve…it is pure agony deciding which. I am 67 yr old female, in pretty good health, and finally decided mechanical because I think I would outlive a tissue valve and don’t want to do this surgery again if not necessary. I am still in the process of getting my coumadin level stable but it will get there.

My surgery went well and I had no problems except a reaction to the first stitch on my incision which required an extra day or two in the hospital…no infection but a reaction, which surgeon says can happen. I had surgery on Friday and came out of intensive cardiac care sometime Sunday night. I do not remember a thing that happened to me until sometime Monday afternoon, which is not bad because I missed being wired to so many machines and the ventilator tube down my throat.

By Monday afternoon I was up going to the bathroom by myself and took a short walk around the nurses station. By Tuesday I was walking down the hall and able to get in and out of bed with much trouble. I spent 9 days in the hospital which seemed just about right.

Food tasted like cardboard and had no appetite until I rediscovered milk. I do not usually drink milk, but it was the one thing that tasted normal so drank lots. Also had my husband bring me those little cups of ice cream every day.
I’m now 3 1/2 weeks out and food still is iffy but I do make myself eat as I know it’s important.

I still find it freaky when I think someone cut my chest open, then cut my heart open then actually went into my heart and changed the valve. There are so many miracles in medicine and this has to be one of the best.

I’m now walking almost an hour a day (in 20 min. segments) and see my cardiologist in a couple of days for the first time since surgery.

By the way, my mechanical valve makes no noise that I or anyone close to me can hear. I do feel my stronger heartbeat up the back of my head, around my ears and across my abdomen when I lay down to sleep but it is just saying that my heart is beating stronger and with more efficiency that it has for some time.


AVR 2/13/09, Kaiser-Permanente Cardiac Facility in Los Angeles
by an excellent team of doctors who made sure it keeps on ticking.

Maureen Spielman says on March 13th, 2009 at 12:39 am

I just ordered your book and can’t wait to get it. We are meeting with the Heart Surgeon next week to set the date for aorta valve replacement. I’ll need the surgery within the month, so we need to make decisions quickly.
We discovered 6 years ago that I was born with a bicuspid aorta. I had an angiogram two days ago and the news was not good. I need to get my hands on some good patient information!!! Thanks, Maureen P.S. I live in Ventura County California

Midge says on March 15th, 2009 at 6:42 pm

Maureen, another good book is Your Heart, An Owner’s Guide by John Elefteriades, MD and Lawrence Cohen, MD. It’s not as personal as Adam’s book, which is really great and I used alot before my surgery on 2/13, but it was also a good point of reference. You can probably get it on Amazon but I got my copy at a Borders store. I from Mojave, CA. so not too far from you.

Steve Heath says on March 18th, 2009 at 8:45 pm

I am 61 and on Jan 5 I had two mechanical valve replacements, one for my severely leaking mtiral vlave and the 2nd for my mildly leaking aortic valve. The Aortic valve leak was not critical, but the replacement of that valve was done to prevent the need for a second open heart procedure down the road. I have named my valves “click” and “clack” becuase that is how they talk to me when I am sitting in a quite room or going to bed. I really do not mind the sound. My question is do we know how many double valve replacements are done each year? I do know that it is more common to have a mitral valve repair and aortic valve relacement together, but my mitral valve was too damaged to repair. Thanks//Steve

Jackie says on March 22nd, 2009 at 7:53 pm

I am a 43 y.o 2 yr and 4 month Bicuspid AVR and Ascending Aortic Anneurysm repair person. I chose a mechanical valve due to my age and probability of outliving a tissue valve. Taking coumadin lifelong due to the AVR being mechanical is no big deal to me. I’m healthy, happy, and grateful to Dr. John Elefteriades of Yale New Haven Hospital in Connecticut for the skills and compasssion he is blessed with. Fear of the unknown is understandable. Every one of us that has been through this type of surgery understands and has been exactly where you are now. And….good news…we all not only survived, but are living longer and healthier lives. You’ll be there too soon. Best wishes. -JMS

Kristen says on July 2nd, 2013 at 3:35 pm

It’s been a few years since your post and I’m wondering if that number went up – I find myself searching for data among the internets yet again! Do you have a citation for that number? I can’t seem to find AHA references… I’ll continue the search though.

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