Selecting Between Mechanical and Tissue Aortic Heart Valves

A respected Indiana physician, Dr. Marc Gerdisch has achieved recognition for his work in the area of heart care and serves as thoracic and cardiovascular surgery chief with Franciscan Health. In March of 2013, Dr. Marc Gerdisch was the first US physician to perform implantation of the On-X Aortic Prosthetic Valve with Anatomic Sewing Ring. FDA approved, the mechanical On-X aortic heart valve is recognized by the international medical community as a safe and effective way of treating advanced heart-valve disease.

One key question heart valve patients needing a valve replacement face is whether to choose a mechanical or a tissue valve. Harvested from the bovine heart sac or the porcine heart valve, the tissue valve is neutralized and treated such that it is not rejected by the body. The valves can either be implanted directly or be mounted to a stent or frame.

One major issue with the tissue valve option is that the typical lifetime of the valve is between 10 and 15 years, after which a replacement is required. The lifespan of the valve may be even less for patients of a younger age. The significant mortality risks associated with the implantation procedure make the valve lifespan and patient life expectancy major factors in making the decision.

Created from pyrolytic carbon, mechanical valves have a 30 year lifespan but have the drawback of requiring warfarin anticoagulation therapy, which carries with it bleeding risks. In addition, the mechanical valves often make an audible sound when opening and closing.

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