Heart disease is almost entirely preventable, yet it is one of the leading causes of death in the world. It can appear for a wide variety of reasons, but most commonly lifestyle choices create the foundation for the disease to appear. The high risk population for aortic valve replacements are those who are overweight, exercise infrequently if at all, and routinely eat foods that have high caloric and fat contents to them.
Facts About Aortic Valve Replacements
1. 5 million. That’s the number of Americans who are diagnosed with heart valve disease every year.
2. More than 600k Americans die each year because of heart disease, making it the leading cause of death in the United States every year.
3. More than 45,000 patients have been implanted with the Edwards SAPIEN transcatheter valve, which was approved for use in 2007.
4. Heart valve disease can occur in any single valve or a combination of the four valves, but aortic disease is one of the most common.
5. Calcific aortic stenosis is the most common cause of aortic stenosis [AS] that is diagnosed today.
6. The number of people that are diagnosed with AS every year: 1.5 million.
7. 33% of the cases of AS that are diagnosed are classified as severe cases of the disease.
8. Only 50% of the severe cases of AS ever show any signs or symptoms that the disease is actually active and present.
9. Without an AVR, as many as 50% of patients with severe AS will not survive more than an average of 2 years.
10. 3%. That’s the 5 year survival rate for people who are diagnosed with severe inoperable AS. In comparison, metastatic lung cancer has a 4% 5 year survival rate.
11. More than half of patients that receive an echo and show the presence of the disease are not referred to a surgeon to be evaluated for an AVR.
12. About 1 in 50 people who undergo this type of surgery die from complications either during or shortly after surgery.
13. A total of 41,227 patients underwent aortic valve surgery over a 5 year period between 2004-2009. The in-hospital mortality rate was 4.1%.
14. The dialysis rate was 4.5% and the reoperation rate for bleeding was 6.6% after an AVR was successfully completed.
15. The average age of someone receiving an AVR: 70.
16. 89%. That’s the percentage of patients who have survived 2.5 years after having the AVR completed.
17. 1 in 4 patients who are referred for an AVR are considered to be high risk patients because of the status of their health.
18. 1 in 8 people above the age of 75 may qualify to have an AVR procedure performed to improve their health. The diagnosis rate of AS in this age demographic, however, is just 3%.
How serious is this disease? For people who have severe forms of aortic stenosis which cannot be operated on, their survival rates are lower than patients who have certain forms of metastatic cancers. When this condition is diagnosed, the standard procedure is to begin surgery preparations as soon as possible. Unfortunately this disease is under-treated because the classic symptoms of heart disease, such as chest pains, aren’t present.
An aortic valve replacement [AVR] has risks associated with it, as does any medical procedure, but more than 85,000 are performed every year in the US alone. The first procedure was successfully completed in 2002. Now even commercially produced heart valves are being successfully implanted.
How Is an AVR Performed?
An aortic valve replacement surgery is an open heart surgery. This means recovery times can be long, yet still necessary. The aortic valve is responsible for allowing blood to flow from the heart to the rest of the body. It must be able to close tightly so that blood doesn’t leak back into the heart. It is generally replaced when it starts to leak or the valve itself narrows so that the blood flow is obstructed. The risks of a surgery are less than the risks of not receiving a surgery.
An AVR is considered to be the standard treatment when AS or regurgitation is detected. Although the risks of in-hospital mortality from the surgery are double that of many other surgeries, there aren’t many non-surgical options available. Whether it is a congenital defect being treated or something that has happened because of age or lifestyle choices, the AVR is the gold standard.