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Overview of the management of patients with prosthetic heart valves

William H Gaasch, MD
William A Zoghbi, MD, FASE, FAHA, MACC
Section Editor
Catherine M Otto, MD
Deputy Editor
Susan B Yeon, MD, JD, FACC


Surgical replacement of a diseased heart valve with a prosthetic valve or transcatheter implantation of a prosthetic valve can provide substantial clinical benefits. However, such procedures exchange the adverse effects of native disease for prosthesis-related complications [1-3]. The frequency of various complications depends upon the valve type and position, and other clinical risk factors. Complications include embolic events, bleeding, valve obstruction (due to thrombosis or pannus), infective endocarditis, structural deterioration (particularly for bioprosthetic valves), paravalvular regurgitation, hemolytic anemia, and prosthesis-patient mismatch. (See "Diagnosis of mechanical prosthetic valve thrombosis or obstruction".)

Management of patients with prosthetic valves, including monitoring for complications, is reviewed here. Issues related to antithrombotic therapy in patients (including pregnant women) with prosthetic valves, management of complications, choice of prosthetic valve, transcatheter aortic valve replacement, and prosthesis-patient mismatch are discussed separately. (See "Antithrombotic therapy for prosthetic heart valves: Indications" and "Antithrombotic therapy for prosthetic heart valves: Management of bleeding and invasive procedures" and "Diagnosis of mechanical prosthetic valve thrombosis or obstruction" and "Management of antithrombotic therapy for a prosthetic heart valve during pregnancy" and "Choice of therapy for symptomatic severe aortic stenosis" and "Surgical procedures for severe chronic mitral regurgitation" and "Choice of prosthetic heart valve for surgical aortic or mitral valve replacement", section on 'Prosthetic valve-patient mismatch'.)


Goals — The goals of serial follow-up of patients with prosthetic valves include identification of changes in clinical status, management of antithrombotic therapy, monitoring for complications, identification of changes in valve function, and provision of patient education.

Patient education — Patients should be educated about prosthetic valve outcomes, the need for proper care (including optimal dental care, the need for antibiotic prophylaxis for dental procedures, and when required, appropriate antithrombotic therapy) and should be instructed to seek prompt medical attention for any new sign or symptom that might be related to a valve complication such as a significant change in the audible click of a mechanical prosthesis, persistent or recurrent fever, decrease in exercise tolerance, ischemic cerebral events, or palpitations. Repeat evaluation with echocardiography should be performed any time there is a change in clinical status or examination findings. (See 'Infective endocarditis' below.)

Schedule of follow-up — The main components of follow-up are history, physical examination, and echocardiography. We suggest the following approach to evaluation after prosthetic valve implantation, largely based on the 2014 American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association guidelines on the management of valvular heart disease [3]:

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Literature review current through: Oct 2017. | This topic last updated: Apr 28, 2017.
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