The Body Synthetic
  Winter 2008

  Dr. D. Jaron
  Dr. P. Lelkes
  Dr. R. Seliktar

  Shuk-Man Charli Hon
  Richard Gerbino
  Natalie Gostola

Heart valve diseases fall into one of two categories: stenosis and incompetence.  Stenotic heart valves do not fully open and incompetent heart valves do not fully close. 

The best treatment option for any heart valve disease is medication.  When medication is not sufficient to correct the problem, surgery or replacement is the next choice.  If the defective valve cannot be corrected through surgery, it must be replaced.

Mechanical heart valves are not usually used in children and young adults.  Their bodies (and hearts) are still growing so implanting a device that will not grow with the rest of the body will cause a need for future replacement surgery. 

Mechanical heart valves should also not be used in people who cannot take anticoagulative medication for a long period of time (i.e. the rest of their lives.)  Since the valves are inside the blood stream, the blood can start to form clots when it comes in contact with the foreign material.  The extent that this occurs depends on the type of valve used and the materials it is made with.  Anticoagulative medication will help restrict the formation of clots, reducing the possibility of serious complications. 

Created: February 17, 2008