Aortic valve replacement


Preparation

Aortic valve replacement is typically an in-patient procedure, meaning that you will likely spend at least one night in the hospital.

Before the procedure, your doctor will let you know what to do to prepare, which may include medication, following a special diet, and stopping eating and drinking. You will also discuss a recovery plan detailing what activities to avoid after the surgery, and designate someone to take you home.

Recovery

Most people come to the hospital on the morning of the aortic valve surgery.  After the procedure, you can expect to spend about a week in the hospital recovering, depending on your overall health and the assistance available at home. Your stay after a TAVR procedure might be shorter.

After the procedure, your doctor will give you specific instructions to help you recover, which may include physical exercises (called cardiac rehabilitation) and medication. You may also need to follow a particular diet. Carefully follow your doctor’s directions, especially if blood-thinning drugs are prescribed.

Over time, you will also need to take some steps to help your incision site heal. Some discomfort, like mild aches and pains, are common during recovery from a heart procedure.

If you notice any unusual symptoms, such as fresh, new, or excessive bleeding, pain, other discomfort, or changes in your overall health, ask your doctor if they are cause for concern.

You should call 911 if you notice any of the following:

  • Symptoms of a heart attack, such as sudden chest pain, shortness of breath, or dizziness
  • Signs of a stroke, such as drooping facial features, difficulty standing, or difficulty with speech
  • Swelling, numbness, or pain in your legs
  • Signs of possible infection, such as heat and swelling around the incision site, green or yellow discharge, or a fever above 104 degrees

You can trust our cardiac care team to guide you through every step of the process.

Results

Every person’s recovery from aortic valve repair is different. Depending on the type of procedure you have, the stage of aortic stenosis, and your overall health, you may leave the hospital and return to normal activities fairly quickly, or take longer to recover.

Almost all patients that have TAVR procedures see improved heart function within a month of the procedure. SAVR procedures may take slightly longer to see a significant improvement, but overall you can expect much better heart function over time.

Better heart health makes a big difference in terms of quality of life, from reduced symptoms and pain, to improved independence and mobility.

To learn more, talk to your care team. Dignity Health provides expert heart valve surgery, including aortic valve replacement, as part of our cardiology services. Make an appointment today to determine if heart valve surgery is right for you.

The information contained in this article is meant for educational purposes only and should not replace advice from your healthcare provider.