When a heart valve is damaged or diseased beyond repair, it is replaced with a mechanical valve or tissue valve. This process is called valve replacement surgery. It can either be performed through open-heart surgery or a minimally invasive approach and is one of the major surgeries to be performed on the human body.
Factors like age, type of valve, heart valve surgery cost in India, and risks involved need to be considered before undergoing a heart valve replacement surgery.
What Is The Requirement For Heart Valve Replacement Surgery?
Valve replacement is required in cases of a damaged valve, which is caused due to several factors. Given below are some of these reasons:
- Old age
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- History of heart diseases
The Two Types Of Heart Valves
There are mainly two kinds of valve replacement procedures- mechanical and biological.
The choice of valve type surgery depends on three major factors: age, past medical conditions, and individual preference, in that order. Age plays a crucial role in the choice of valve replacement procedure type.
- Mechanical Valves
Consisting of carbon and metal, the design of a mechanical valve emulates the natural leaflets of a valve. These are mostly used in younger or middle-aged patients who are typically below the age of 65 years.
The reason behind the preference of patients younger than 65 years of age is to prolong the need for any further surgeries for at least twenty to thirty years.
- Biological Valves
These valves are created using living tissue, most commonly obtained from pigs or cows and sometimes even humans. Although human donor valves are extremely rare, they have the least chances of auto rejection by the body.
However, the biological valves do not have a long shelf life compared to the mechanical ones and may require additional surgery down the line.
People over the age of 65 are highly preferred for this choice as, unlike the mechanical valves, they don’t accompany the risk of blood clots and don’t make the blood thinner. Since the life expectancy of a normal human being in India is 69.42 years, quality over quantity is given importance.
How Does The Age Factor Affect The Heart Valve Replacement Procedure?
Age is a major aspect that determines the optimal time for valve replacement surgery. Even though the age range of patients requiring valve replacement surgery is wide, the number of elderly patients is rapidly increasing in the past years.
People aged over sixty-five usually have multiple diseases and comparatively weaker immune systems. Hence, using a biological valve reduces the chance of rejection. In addition, since using a biological valve doesn’t require taking blood thinners for the rest of their lives, they don’t pose any threat to the kidneys in aged people.
Moreover, on average, people above the age of 65 usually live only for the next 10 to 15; given the life expectancy, mechanical valves’ risk of blood clots is not worth it. Thus, the long shelf life of a mechanical valve is rendered useless due to the life expectancy limit of older people.
Advantages Of Heart Valve Replacement Surgery In Older People
Heart valve replacement allows people suffering from heart diseases and damaged heart valves a chance to lead better lives, especially the ones above the age of 50.
- Restored activeness and ability to perform basic activities for the rest of the remaining years
- Prolonged and better quality of life
- Relief from pain, breathlessness, and other symptoms caused due to a defective valve
Heart Valve Replacement In India
Heart valve surgery cost in india is comparatively lower than in other countries, and compared to the West, the procedure is significantly lower in India.
Some of the leading hospitals in India, like the chain of Max Super Speciality hospitals, have one of the top teams of cardiac specialists and excellent services. So while cost is also a prime factor, the importance of quality supersedes it.
The achievement rate of heart valve replacement surgery in patients above the age of sixty-five has been excellent, with the operative risks fairly limited and acceptable. The survival rate after the surgery in aged people is also upstanding due to the advancement of medical science.
The effect of age on heart valve replacement surgery is paramount, especially in the choice of valve used in the surgery. However, with an excellent team of doctors in hospitals and the availability of the low heart valve surgery cost in India, age as a factor doesn’t withhold older people from getting heart valve replacement surgery.