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Mitral Valve Replacement
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Mitral valve replacement is open heart surgery to replace all or part of the mitral valve. The mitral valve normally opens and closes to let blood pass through the heart. If your mitral valve does not open or close correctly, blood may not flow as it should through your heart.
- Antiplatelets help prevent blood clots. This medicine makes it more likely for you to bleed or bruise.
- Blood thinners help prevent blood clots. Examples of blood thinners include heparin and warfarin. Clots can cause strokes, heart attacks, and death. The following are general safety guidelines to follow while you are taking a blood thinner:
- Watch for bleeding and bruising while you take blood thinners. Watch for bleeding from your gums or nose. Watch for blood in your urine and bowel movements. Use a soft washcloth on your skin, and a soft toothbrush to brush your teeth. This can keep your skin and gums from bleeding. If you shave, use an electric shaver. Do not play contact sports.
- Tell your dentist and other healthcare providers that you take anticoagulants. Wear a bracelet or necklace that says you take this medicine.
- Do not start or stop any medicines unless your healthcare provider tells you to. Many medicines cannot be used with blood thinners.
- Tell your healthcare provider right away if you forget to take the medicine, or if you take too much.
- Warfarin is a blood thinner that you may need to take. The following are things you should be aware of if you take warfarin.
- Foods and medicines can affect the amount of warfarin in your blood. Do not make major changes to your diet while you take warfarin. Warfarin works best when you eat about the same amount of vitamin K every day. Vitamin K is found in green leafy vegetables and certain other foods. Ask for more information about what to eat when you are taking warfarin.
- You will need to see your healthcare provider for follow-up visits when you are on warfarin. You will need regular blood tests. These tests are used to decide how much medicine you need.
- Heart medicine: This medicine is given to strengthen or regulate your heartbeat.
- Blood pressure medicine: This is given to lower your blood pressure.
- Antibiotics: This medicine may be given to help prevent or treat infection caused by bacteria.
- Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Follow up with your cardiologist or heart surgeon as directed:
You may need to return for blood tests. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
Carefully wash the wound with soap and water. Pat the area dry. Put on new, clean bandages as directed. Change your bandages when they get wet or dirty.
Your cardiologist or heart surgeon may recommend that you attend cardiac rehabilitation (rehab). This is a program run by specialists who will help you safely strengthen your heart and prevent more heart disease. The plan includes exercise, relaxation, stress management, and heart-healthy nutrition. Healthcare providers will also check to make sure any medicines you are taking are working. The plan may also include instructions for when you can drive, return to work, and do other normal daily activities.
- Care for your teeth and gums: Brush and floss your teeth, and see your dentist regularly. This may help prevent an infection. Tell your dentist that you have had heart valve surgery.
- Eat heart healthy foods: Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. Eat foods that contain healthy fats, such as walnuts, salmon, and canola and soybean oils. Fruits and vegetables, nuts, and fiber may help to protect the heart. Ask if you need to be on a low-sodium (salt) or low-fat diet.
- Maintain a healthy weight: Ask your healthcare provider or cardiologist how much you should weigh. Ask him to help you create a weight loss plan if you are overweight.
- Do not smoke: If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Smoking can make your symptoms worse or increase the risk that you may need surgery again. Ask for information if you need help quitting.
Contact your cardiologist or heart surgeon if:
- You have a fever.
- Your hands, ankles, or feet are swollen.
- You urinate less, or not at all.
- You feel extremely tired or weak.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Seek care immediately or call 911 if:
- Your wound area is painful, red, or is oozing fluid.
- Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
- You have blood in your urine or bowel movement.
- You bleed from your nose, mouth, or wound.
- You have weakness or numbness in your arm, leg, or face.
- You have chest pain when you take a deep breath or cough. You may cough up blood.
- You have dizziness, a severe headache, or vision loss.
- You are confused or have problems speaking or understanding speech.
- You suddenly feel lightheaded or have trouble breathing.
- You have pain that spreads to your arm, jaw, or back, or sudden back pain.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.