Mitral valve is one of the 4 valves present in the heart. The valves are present for the blood circulation through the heart to the entire parts of the body. The mitral valve's position lies between the left atrium and the left ventricle. Thus, it allows allowing the blood circulation from your left atrium towards the left ventricle and prevents it from flowing backwards into the left atrium and lungs which could cause damage.
When the mitral valve is no longer serving its function, you may be immediately recommended to get a Mitral Valve Replacement done. Untimely or delay of Mitral Valve Replacement treatment may lead to worsening of the heart function, thereby leading to heart failure and eventually death.
Mitral Valve Replacement is a surgery done when the mitral valve does not work properly. The mitral valve disease can be caused due to several conditions, however, the first two cases mentioned below are majorly responsive for mitral valve disease:
1. Mitral Valve Stenosis: In this type of mitral valve disease, the mitral valve is not able to proper openly to conduct enough blood circulation. This condition develops due to calcification of hardening of the leaflets present, hence preventing the mitral valve's movement.
2. Mitral Valve Regurgitation: In this type of mitral valve disease, the blood flows back as the leaflets are being pulled apart. This causes a leak and hence regurgitation.
3. Ischemic heart disease (coronary artery disease)
4. Infection of the heart valves
5. Heart failure
6. Rheumatic fever
What are the Symptoms of Mitral Valve Disease?
There are some symptoms of Mitral Valve Disease which develop over time as the mitral valve disease starts to get worse. Here are a few symptoms of Mitral Valve Disease:
● Abnormal heart sound (heart murmur) that can be heard through a stethoscope
● Chest pain (angina) or tightness within the chest
● Feeling faint/dizzy or fainting as a result of activity
● Shortness of breath, especially out of an activity
● Fatigue, especially during times of increased activity
● Swollen feet or Legs
● Abnormal Blood Pressure
● Incessant coughing
● Heart palpitations and convulsions: sensations of a rapid, fluttering heartbeat
● High Blood Pressure
There are mainly two types of valves that the heart surgeon may use during the Mitral Valve Replacement surgery. Depending on the condition of your Mitral Valve Disease, your heart surgeon may decide which valve to choose.
● Mechanical valves: These are made of artificial elements like Titanium, Teflon, Carbon. They last a long time and don't wear off in the body after replacing the original mitral valve. However, after the implantation of Mechanical valves in the body, your doctor may advice you to take blood-thinning medication for the rest of your life.
● Biological valves: As the name suggests are made of composite or bio-prosthetic materials, often extracted from animal tissue of a cow or a pig. These valves, however, have a lifetime of 15-20 years, which means you may be required to get a second valve replacement done later. These valves may not require you to consume blood-thinning medicines. Biological valves are more commonly used in mitral valve replacement operations than mechanical valves.
Before your Mitral Valve Replacement surgery, a strong dosage of general anaesthesia is administered to you in order to put you into a deep sleep till the time the surgery is performed. As soon as the sleep is induced into your body, the surgeon makes a wide cut around the breastbone area to get access to your heart where the mitral valve replacement will take place.
In order to perform the surgery, the surgeon needs to a motionless and bloodless field. In order to keep the body functioning even when the heart is stopped, a device known as a heart-lung bypass machine is hinged to the body which is which will pump the blood in your body just like the original heart does. This device will function till the time the Mitral Valve Replacement surgery is complete. The diseased mitral valve is removed and replaced with either a mechanical or bioprosthetic valve. The surgeon ensures that all new connections to the valves are made fine before the heart is restarted. The incision is then closed with stitches.
Mitral Valve Replacement is a very sensitive surgery as it requires the delicate handling of the heart where the Mitral Valve Replacement has to take place. With such delicate surgery, risks are bound to follow. The risks of Mitral Valve Replacement may include:
● Pain at the incision site
● Blood pressure fluctuations
● In rare cases, bleeding
After your Mitral Valve Replacement surgery, you may have to spend a few days in an intensive care unit (ICU) of a hospital. Full recovery from Mitral Valve Replacement treatment can take several months, which will come through the healing of incision, rebuilding physical endurance, and regular exercising. For the first few weeks, you may feel tired and would be strictly advised to avoid physical exertion. The usual side effects of the Mitral Valve Replacement surgery may take up to a few weeks to subside.
The medical facilities of cardiac ICU's as well as good post-operative diagnosis, which ensures proper care after the surgery completion in India is at par with any other country having premium health facilities. Many people can also afford the surgeries for Mitral Valve Replacement in India, which is not possible in countries like USA, Australia or UK.