My aunt 3 months ago had surgery to replace her heart value. She does have a history of calcification in here veins. Was doing great then all of a sudden she's back in the hospital and the doctors are saying that the new valve is not opening all the way due to this calcification deposits. She's 75 years old and may not get through another surgery. My question is what is this calcification and what causes it? Can you control calcification and will she have to have several more operations in you can not control it??
Thank You We are concerned and her doctors are saying much.
Dear Stephed, thank you for your question. I assume that your aunt had an aortic valve replacement since that valve most commonly calcifies in elderly patients. I will also assume that she had a porcine artificial valve replacement since mechanical valves do not calcify. Elderly patients can develop calcifications in their arteries and on or around heart valves; it is not known why this process occurs and we do not have treatments to reverse this process at this time. After porcine valve replacement, the valve leaflets can calcify with time since the valve tissue is similar to the native human valve tissue. However, calcification of porcine valve leaflets usually occurs 5-10 years after valve replacement. Mechanical valve leaflets do not calcify because calcium can't be deposited on the polymers used to construct these valves. It would be unusual for calcification to develop on valve leaflets just 3 months after valve replacement, but patients with kidney failure can have a condition called metastatic calcification where calcium is deposited in all areas of the body at an accelerated rate. So, if your aunt has kidney failure, that may be contributing. I suggest that you speak to her cardiologist again and ask about potential treatment options and prognosis. If you have further questions, please write back. I hope you find this information useful. Information provided in the heart forum is for general purposes only. Specific diagnoses and therapies can only be provided by your physician.
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