Four years ago, Emmetsburg, Iowa, insurance agent Jim Wirtz, now 65, had triple bypass surgery. Just 10 days later, he was back at the office. Three weeks after that, he received a clean bill of health from his doctors, who said he could do any physical activity -- except shovel heavy snow.
Wirtz took their advice, and he and his wife resumed having intercourse. "Stay in the game, whether it's sex or work," he says. "My own philosophy is, you just better live."
Wirtz is doing what doctors say most...
After surgery, you will have regular doctor visits to check your heart and your new valve. You will take blood thinning medicine to prevent blood clots after surgery. And you might need antibiotics to prevent infections.
Keep in mind that an artificial valve will not work as well as an undamaged natural valve. So even though your heart function is improved, it may not recover to completely normal levels. If your heart was already severely affected before your surgery, you may still have symptoms of heart disease.
Regular doctor visits
After surgery, you will have regular checkups so your doctor can check your heart and your heart valve.
It is important to know that you aren't cured after you have had a valve replacement. You still have a serious heart condition that must be monitored.
Your doctor will check for signs of a problem with the valve. This includes checking to make sure the valve is still working well. Tissue valves wear out over time. They last about 10 to 18 years. Mechanical valves typically do not wear out. They usually last 20 years or more. But other problems might happen with a mechanical valve, such as an infection. As long as you have an artificial valve, you and your doctor will need to watch for signs of problems.
Your doctor will check the new valve periodically for signs that it is wearing out or that there are other problems. Your doctor will ask you how you are feeling and if you have any new symptoms or changes in symptoms. These symptoms are similar to those that signaled that the original valve was wearing out: a heart murmur and sometimes symptoms such as shortness of breath and fainting. These signs may be spotted during visits to your doctor.
You might have tests, such as an echocardiogram, to check how well your heart is working. Your doctor will also check for other heart problems.