Life after your aortic valve replacement
Recovery from aortic valve replacement varies based on a patient’s overall health. It can also depend on whether the patient undergoes transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) or open heart surgery.
Your doctor can provide information on how recovery differs for TAVI and open heart surgery.
For both procedures, you may be taken to the intensive care unit (ICU) for a little while or moved directly to a recovery room. Your doctor will update your carer or loved ones on how you are doing.
It is important to talk to your doctor about how long visitors may be expected to wait before seeing you as well as when you can expect to transition to home care.
Jacques gets back to the life he enjoys
After undergoing TAVI to replace his heart valve, Jacques was back to doing what he loves in no time.
Your aortic valve replacement recovery plan
Now that you’ve had your valve replaced to treat your severe aortic stenosis, you may wonder what you can do to enhance your road to recovery.
Your doctor will give you specific instructions to help you with your aortic valve replacement recovery, which may include a special diet, exercise, and medication. It is important to carefully follow your doctor’s directions, especially if blood-thinning drugs are prescribed.
Here are some questions you may want to ask regarding your after care:
- How soon can I get back to my day-to-day activities?
- When can I increase my level of physical activity?
- Are there activities I should avoid?
- Can I drive?
Turning to carers for support
Every person’s recovery from aortic valve replacement is different—from how long they stay in the hospital to how long it takes to feel normal again. Some people leave the hospital needing only minimal support at home while others may need more caregiving support.
It is important to ask for help as you get back to your life. Talk with your carer about what you need and how he or she can best help you.
Staying in touch with your doctor
After you leave the hospital, there are some important things to keep in mind:
- You will need to take some steps to help your incision site heal.
- You may have aches and pains, which is a normal part of the healing process. Your doctor may prescribe medication to help.
- Make sure you continue your breathing and coughing exercises to keep your lungs clear and prevent complications.
Your doctor will provide additional and more specific follow-up care instructions for you, which may include cardiac care rehabilitation. To ensure you are recovering as you should, you will have scheduled follow-up visits with either the doctor who performed your procedure or your general cardiologist, depending on the treatment plan recommended for you.
As you recover, it is important to call or see your doctor whenever you have questions or concerns, especially if you experience any unusual problems such as bleeding, pain, other discomfort, or changes in your overall health.
There are many free tools and resources available to learn more about aortic stenosis and its treatment options, including brochures, patient stories and procedure videos.
Arnold SV, Spertus JA, Vemulapalli S, et al. Quality-of-Life Outcomes After Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement in an Unselected PopulationA Report From the STS/ACC Transcatheter Valve Therapy Registry. JAMA Cardiol. 2017;2(4):409–416. doi:10.1001/jamacardio.2016.5302
Smith, Craig R. (2016, April 2). Transcatheter or Surgical Aortic Valve Replacement in Intermediate Risk Patients with Aortic Stenosis: Final Results from the PARTNER 2A Trial; ACC 2016.
Kleczyński P, Bagieński M, Sorysz D et al. Short- and intermediate-term improvement of patient quality of life after transcatheter aortic valve implantation: a single-centre study. Kardiol Pol 2014;72:612–6.
Minutello RM, Wong SC, Swaminathan RV et al. Costs and in-hospital outcomes of transcatheter aortic valve implantation versus surgical aortic valve replacement in commercial cases using a propensity score matched model. Am J Cardiol 2015;115:1443–7.
Leon MB, Smith CR, Mack MJ et al. Transcatheter or surgical aortic valve replacement in intermediate-risk patients. N Engl J Med 2016;374:1609–1620.