Tuesday, September 23

Heart Problems and Aging

GIF-animation showing a moving echocardiogram;...Image via WikipediaAging brings with it many health problems, and one of these is a mitral valve prolapse, or heart murmur. The mitral valve is responsible for stopping blood from flowing back into the lungs when it should be pushed through the aorta and delivered to the rest of the body. When the mitral valve doesn't work, the blood flows back to the lungs which causes shortness of breath and weakening of heart muscle.

Undergoing mitral valve surgery will solve the problem. However experts say a mitral valve repair is much better than mitral valve replacement. Repairing the mitral valve has more advantages, such as:
  • A lower mortality at the time of operation (1-2% for repair versus 6-8% for replacement).
  • A significantly lower risk of stroke, and a lower rate of infection.
  • Improved long-term survival with mitral valve repair.
  • Patients who receive a valve repair stay on the same survival curve as the normal population.
  • After mitral valve repair, blood thinners are not required, in contrast to the life-long requirement for blood thinners after mechanical mitral valve replacement.
The traditional mitral valve repair procedure involves cutting open the breastbone to repair the valve, but this seems risky and invasive to some. The good news is there's a minimally invasive option known as videoscopic minimally invasive mitral valve repair. The procedure is performed through a two-inch keyhole incision on the right side of the chest. This approach avoids an incision in the breastbone, and allows patients to return to work and everyday activities sooner after surgery. Other advantages include a lower likelihood of receiving a blood transfusion, and earlier discharge from the hospital.

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