Mechanical Heart Valves

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Mechanical valves are made from manufactured materials and are carefully designed to mimic and function like native heart valves. Like your own natural heart valve, it has a ring to support the leaflets. The mechanical valve opens and closes with each heart beat, permitting proper blood flow through the heart.

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Mechanical Heart Valve Advantages

Mechanical valves are made to last a lifetime. They do not wear out or break down, which means once you have the mechanical heart valve implanted, it should not deteriorate and require a reoperation.

Mechanical valves from St. Jude Medical are structurally designed to last a lifetime, for patients of any age. This exceptional durability has been tested through mechanical wear analysis. Additionally, our mechanical heart valves offer competitive hemodynamic performance.1 Doctors use the term "hemodynamics" to describe the flow of blood through the heart valve. Long-term studies show that St. Jude Medical mechanical heart valves demonstrates consistent hemodynamic performance over time, which allows patients to continue enjoying the same level of activity throughout their lifetime.1,2

In a 15 year follow-up of 2,444 St. Jude Medical mechanical heart valve patients, most of the participants were able to perform their daily routine activity much better than before in spite of being older, and the patients had a quality of life comparable to the general population.2

In a 25-year study, the longest of any bi-leaflet mechanical heart valve, the St. Jude Medical valve was shown to have low complication rates during the long term.3

Mechanical Heart Valve Disadvantages

If you receive a mechanical valve, you will need to take a blood-thinning (anticoagulant) medication every day. Blood-thinning medications such as warfarin delay the clotting action of the blood, which helps prevent blood clots from forming on and around the valve.

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Clicking Sound

Some patients with a mechanical heart valve have said that they hear a clicking sound during quiet or resting times. If you hear this sound, be assured; it means that everything is working fine. The clicking is actually the sound of the mechanical valve leaflets closing.

1Remadi JP, Baron O, Roussel C, et al. Isolated mitral valve replacement with St. Jude Medical prosthesis: long-term results; a follow-up of 19 years. Circ. 2001;103:1542-1545.

2Arom KV, Emery RW, Petersen B, et al. St. Jude Medical valve prosthesis: health status of the patients after 15 years. Ann Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 1996;2:43-49.

3Emery RW, Krogh CC, Arolm KV, Emery AM, et al. The St. Jude Medical cardiac valve prosthesis: a 25-year experience with a single valve replacement. Ann Thorac Surg 2005:79:776-83.

Last Reviewed: January 19, 2010 2506