What's the recovery like after aortic valve surgery?

Recovery after aortic valve surgery may require several days in the hospital. Immediately after aortic valve surgery, people likely will have a tube in their throat so breathing can be assisted by a ventilator.

The tube will be removed once people are able to breathe completely on their own. This usually happens within a few hours, but the cardiothoracic surgeon will determine when it is safe to do so. People should anticipate spending several days, but likely not more than a week, recovering in the hospital, although the total length of time depends on overall health, as well as the specific procedure.

Once people are home, it may be several more weeks until they are able to go back to work, depending on their job. Everyday activities such as driving and lifting heavy objects may be restricted for a period of time.

Blood thinning medication may be prescribed for six weeks to three months after surgery, but the need for this medication will be determined by the doctor.

After the wounds have healed, people should be able to get back to normal activities. People who have aortic valve surgery should always tell a doctor about the valve surgery before any medical procedure. In particular, they may require preventative antibiotics when having dental work.

This content originally appeared online in "The Patient Guide to Heart, Lung, and Esophageal Surgery" from the Society of Thoracic Surgery.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.