Preparing Yourself for Aortic Valve Replacement Surgery

By Adam Pick - Patient, Author & HeartValveSurgery.com Founder

When your physician, after all possible tests, second opinions and analysis, indicates the need for aortic valve replacement surgery, a common response from the patient is fear.

It is a very legitimate response considering this is a major surgery, that may use an invasive, open heart surgery approach which involves administration of general anesthesia and the heart-lung machine.

Though fear and anxiety are legitimate responses to the diagnosis of severe aortic stenosis or severe aortic regurgitation, try not to succumb to the fear and anxiety. As a fellow patient, I researched and learned that the mortality for such procedures is only about 1.7 percent. 

Here is a video I filmed with Dr. Patrick McCarthy, a leading heart valve surgeon at Northwestern Medicine, to help educate you about the mortality rates of surgery. 

 

 

In addition, I just updated our 2019 mortality rates for mitral valve repair.  So hopefully, this information will help you if you are experiencing fear or anxiety. 

Please note, the odds are on your side. So, work consciously towards rising above the situation and take practical steps towards successful  treatment and recovery.

Before you undergo your aortic valve replacement surgery, you may need to prepare yourself for the surgery. Preparation may involve various physical, mental, financial and logistical perspectives.

Firstly, adequate preparation should be done from the medical perspective. It is best to listen to your physician and follow their advice and instructions to the last detail relative to exercise, smoking and, perhaps, weight loss. Discuss with your physician the most suitable timing for the surgery. You must be physically stable when you undergo surgery. Your physician will determine the date for the aortic valve replacement surgery given your valve disease, health, age and other risk factors. If there are any other medical complications, your physician should be fully aware of such complications. Your surgeon should have your complete medial history.

Secondly, you may also need to make arrangements for someone to help take care of you in the early post surgery phase. It is best if you can arrange for a family member to take care of you. You will need a lot of support, care and attention during the recovery phase. So you will certainly need someone that is ready to give that attention to you.

Thirdly, you might want to be financially prepared for this major surgery. While it can be difficult, try to get a clear picture about all the costs involved from your physician - specifiic to insurance reimbursemen, Medicare, Medicaid, out-of-pocket expenses, etc. The more accurate the figure you can get, the better it is for you because you will be able to make suitable arrangements. When you are getting an estimate for the aortic valve replacement surgery you should also take into account the expenses involved in the post surgery period which can include medications and cardiac rehabilitation.

Another element of the preparation for aortic valve replacement is your mental attitude. You should be mentally prepared to undergo the surgery. If you are too distressed and if you are subjected to undue fear and anxiety, it is best to approach a medical counselor to help you with the preparation process. It is very important that you do not undergo aortic valve replacement surgery when you are overly agitated. It may help to listen to guided imagery CDs or participate in other relaxation actions.

With the latest medical technology, open heart surgery, including aortic valve replacement surgeries, have become relatively common. Try to get all the help you can in terms of understanding your medical condition. There is a lot of literature and resources available today both online and offline about aortic valve replacement surgery. Read books on this topic which will help you get through the entire process in a methodical and less emotional manner. While each patient is unique, the guidelines presented above may help in your preparation for and recovery from aortic valve surgery.

 

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Page last updated: January 21, 2019

 

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 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.