Heart valve surgery in Iran: all you need to know
Our heart is made up of four valves; mitral, aortic, tricuspid, and pulmonary. These valves are in charge of controlling the flow of blood in and out of the heart. An abnormal heart valve cannot adequetly control the blood flow either because it is leaking or is too narrow to pass the blood. When the condition is diagnosed, the cardiologist may recommend heart valve surgery to repair or replace the diseased valve.
What is heart valve surgery?
Heart valve surgery is performed to restore the normal function of the valve. Depending on the severity of the patient’s condition, age, and overall health, the cardiologist decides to repair the heart valve or replace it. In either case, the condition should be addressed as soon as possible.
Heart valve surgery is usually performed on the aortic valve; but it can also treat mitral, tricuspid or pulmonary valve anomalies. With heart valve replacement, the surgeon might use mechanical valve replacement or use donor animal tissue.
Types of heart valve surgery
There are several approaches that a surgeon can take to repair or replace a heart valve. Regardless of the method, general anesthesia is administrated before the surgery. The main types of heart valve surgery procedures are as follows:
The first step of the traditional type of surgery is making an incision in the middle of the chest. Then, the surgeon cuts the breast bone open to expose the heart. In most open-heart surgery procedures, a heart-lung machine is used to take over the functions of the heart, making it possible to stop the heartbeats temporarily. By doing so, the surgeon can perform the procedure on a still heart valve. Then, he or she cuts the aorta/mitral artery open to gain access to the valve. At this point, the surgeon can repair the heart valve or remove it entirely so that it can be replaced with a replacement valve. At the end of the surgery, the surgeon restarts the heart, detaches the heart-lung machine, and attaches a temporary pacemaker to the heart if needed.
In some cases, heart valve repair surgery can be performed using the robotic approach. This technique is minimally invasive and allows for an easier and quicker recovery. However, not everyone is eligible to undergo the Robotic-Assisted Heart Valve Repair. You can ask your surgeon whether this method is suitable for your case.
When the patient prefers not to undergo open-heart surgery or their health is not good enough to be eligible for the surgery, the cardiologist may suggest a less invasive alternative known as TAVR.
Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR)
Using real-time x-ray technology, a stent carrying a deflated valve replacement is inserted and threaded into the artery. Once the stent reaches the diseased artery, the heart valve replacement is inflated and pushes the old artery out of the way while taking its place.
The incision through which the valve is inserted is usually made in the groin. Sometimes, however, the incision needs to be made on some other areas on the body; such as under the collar bone or in front of the chest.
Transcatheter heart valve replacement can be performed while the heart is beating; which means it is far less invasive than the traditional approach to replace a heart valve and is usually recommended to patients who are at intermediate to high risk for open-heart surgery.
While not the preferred approach for treating mitral valve stenosis, the transcatheter approach can also be performed for mitral valve replacement. The method is called Transcatheter Mitral Valve Replacement (TMVR).
When is heart valve surgery needed?
Your heart valves may be leaky or narrowed; this puts a lot of pressure on your heart and disrupts your blood flow. The abnormality in your heart valves might be congenital or due to acquired valve disease. Nevertheless, they can contribute to heart failure if left untreated. There are two types of heart valve abnormalities:
Leaky heart valve
A leaking valve does not close properly, causing blood to flow back into the ventricle. This leads to a condition called aortic regurgitation; a condition that could disrupt the heart’s efficiency to pump blood to the rest of the body.
Narrowed Heart valve
Narrowed aortic valve does not open completely, which restricts the amount of blood that enters the aorta. This condition is called mitral/aortic stenosis and can lead to reduction in or blockage of the blood flow.
When either one of these conditions occurs, the heart muscles can become enlarged and weakened, leading to heart failure. Heart failure is a serious, chronic condition with the following symptoms:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain (angina)
- Swollen legs
- Rapid heartbeat
Once the surgeon diagnoses your condition, you will be put through a series of tests to figure out the severity of the disease. Sometimes, monitoring the heart’s function and prescribing medications may suffice. In some severe cases, however, surgery may be needed.
Why heart valve surgery in Iran?
Undergoing heart surgery in a country far away from home could be a daunting idea. But if you are not planning to have heart surgery in your country and are weighing up other options, you might be able to benefit from what Iran can offer.
The country is home to some of the most renowned cardiologists and has developed methods of heart surgery that are more efficient than those used in any other country in the world.
Many foreign patients choose Iran to undergo cardiovascular treatments including open-heart surgery, angioplasty, and heart bypass surgery. Here are some of the main factors that contribute to Iran’s reputation for heart surgery:
Heart valve surgery cost in Iran
As it is with almost any other kind of surgery, the cost of heart valve surgery in Iran is relatively lower than that in countries where the same quality of healthcare is offered. Contact us to learn more about how much it costs to have heart valve surgery in Iran,.
Quality of cardiology in Iran
The Iranian society of cardiac surgeon’s accomplishments has earned them a reputation in the region. In 2008, the Iranian heart association became an affiliated member of the European Society of Cardiology, establishing Iran’s position as one of the top ten countries for cardiology treatments.
Furthermore, some of the most renowned cardiologists and cardiac surgeons in the world are Iranian. These highly educated doctors rely on their extensive knowledge and valuable experience to offer the best techniques to treat heart problems.
Iran’s hospitals also enjoy state-of-the-art cardiology equipment which enables them to provide the patients with the most optimal outcomes. In addition to the excellent facilities, most hospitals AriaMedTour collaborates with own an International Patients Department (IPD) that is exclusively designed to cater to the cross-border patients.
Preparing for heart valve surgery in Iran
During an online consultation with one of our healthcare coordinators, you will be given a set of instructions about how you can prepare for the procedure. The precautions could vary depending on the type of surgery and whether it is an open-heart procedure or a transcatheter approach.
You should discuss the following with your healthcare assistant:
- Your current medications and whether you should continue taking them before the surgery
- If you should have an accompanier during your stay in Iran
- How many days you should take off work
- The recommended diet to keep yourself healthy and prepared for the surgery
- If you should go through physical examinations back home or get them in Iran
You might be prohibited from taking certain medications before the surgery. Also, smoking will be prohibited for at least two weeks before the surgery since it can lead to post-op risks and complications.
Once you decide to undergo heart valve replacement in Iran, AriaMedTour will take care of everything related to travel and trip planning, leaving you with only the treatment to focus on.
Recovery after heart valve surgery
The recovery after open-heart valve surgery involves about seven days at the hospital and a month of refraining from strenuous activities or lifting heavy objects.
With less invasive approaches like robotic-assisted heart valve repair or transcatheter valve replacement, the hospital stay will be about 2 to 3 days and within three weeks, the patient can get back to his/her normal activities.
Recovering from heart valve surgery in Iran
- Intensive Care Unit (ICU): Immediately after the surgery, you will be taken to an intensive care unit where the healthcare team monitors your vital functions.
- Regular hospital room in the IPD: As an international patient, you will be transferred to a room that is devoted to foreign patients. There, you will have 24/7 healthcare support in English as well as exclusive healthcare. Based on your case, you might have to spend three days to two weeks in the hospital.
- Flying back home: You can probably fly in 4-6 weeks after your surgery. However, your cardiologist knows best regarding when to get on a plane.
Heart valve surgery recovery at home
- Diet: The ideal diet after heart valve surgery should be low in cholesterol and fat but high in fiber. Basically, your diet should include fruits of all types, vegetables, whole grains (Barley, brown rice, oatmeal, etc.), bread, and low-fat protein like fish and lean meat. You should also limit your intake of saturated fats, sugar, salt, and sodium.
- Medication: after heart valve surgery, some medications might be prescribed while some others might be limited. Your doctor may advise against taking dietary supplements like calcium.
- Activity: Your doctor will discuss with you activities you can or cannot perform during the recovery. Usually, open-heart surgery imposes some restrictions on the patient’s daily life after the surgery. Yet, healthy physical activities like walking will be encouraged.
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