Atherosclerosis -- hardening and narrowing of the arteries -- gets a lot of bad press but with good reason. This progressive process silently and slowly blocks arteries, putting blood flow at risk.
Atherosclerosis is the usual cause of heart attacks, strokes, and peripheral vascular disease -- what together are called "cardiovascular disease." Cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 killer in America, with more than 800,000 deaths in 2005.
How does atherosclerosis develop? Who gets it, and...
Valve replacement may be recommended if your mitral valve is seriously damaged and cannot be repaired.
The decision about whether to repair or replace a
valve is based on many things, including your general health, the
condition of the damaged valve, the presence of other health conditions, and
the expected benefits of surgery. In some cases, the decision clearly may be in
favor of repair or in favor of replacement.
Repair is more successful if there is not a lot of
damage to certain areas of the mitral valve flaps (leaflets) or to the tough
fibers that control movement of the mitral valve leaflets (chordae tendineae).
Mitral valve repair is usually preferred if your valve is suitable
for reconstruction and the surgeon has the appropriate level of experience and
The advantages of mitral valve repair include the
It preserves your natural valve and its support
(chordae tendineae). In general, the more of the natural valve that can be
preserved during a mitral valve replacement, the better the results of the
It prevents the need for lifelong blood-thinning therapy (anticoagulation), which is required to prevent the clotting that
typically occurs when an artificial valve is put in the
It reduces the need for repeat valve surgery later in
It may lead to fewer complications and better results
after surgery than with mitral valve replacement.
When is valve replacement recommended?
Examples of serious damage or complicated conditions that might
lead to mitral valve replacement include:
Extensive ballooning of the mitral valve
(rather than a single flap that puffs up).
(calcification) of the valve.
Prolapse (bulging) of the valve at an