Balloon aortic valvuloplasty is a procedure in which the aortic valve is repaired by widening the narrowed valve to improve blood flow. A valvuloplasty is done with the help of a balloon catheter which is placed in the aortic valve which has narrowed down due to calcium buildup. Balloon aortic valvuloplasty is used as a bridge or treatment option for those patients who do not require major heart surgery.
Causes of balloon aortic valvuloplasty
The aortic valve is among the four valves of the heart, between the left ventricle and the aorta, the largest blood vessel in your body. The aortic valve opens and closes in a steady rhythm to circulate oxygen-rich blood into the aorta. However, sometimes the valve might not open and close properly, and because of which the heart muscles have to work harder. Stenosis in simple words is the narrowing of the leaflets or cusps due to thickening or scarring of your valve that lets a small amount of blood flow from the left ventricle to the aorta to reach the body.
A few causes for aortic valve stenosis are:
- Calcium buildup
- Heart defect from birth
- Rheumatic fever
Aortic valve stenosis affects both young and adults. People with mild aortic valve stenosis don’t usually feel any symptoms. It takes time for the signs to come to notice and even a weakening heart can be overlooked. For patients with serious cases, some of the symptoms that should be noted are:
- Shortness of breath
- Tightness or chest pain
- Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
- Heart murmur
- Heart palpitation (pounding heart)
Balloon aortic valvuloplasty is among the few treatments opted for curing aortic valve stenosis instead of surgeries.
The procedure of balloon aortic valvuloplasty
In this procedure, the doctor inserts a guidewire through a small incision into an artery in the thigh. The catheter makes its way to the aortic valve where a balloon catheter is passed through it. When the tip reaches the valve, the balloon is inflated to push open the stiff valve and stretch the leaflets or cusps. Later, the balloon is deflated after which the catheter and guidewire are removed. The valve is left wide open for the blood to flow freely in the body.
Balloon aortic valvuloplasty is considered best for infants and children. As for adults, there are chances that the valve may narrow again and hinder blood flow.
Aortic valve stenosis cannot be prevented but a few steps can be considered to lessen its chances. Some of them goes as follows:
- Maintaining good dental hygiene
- Take care of high blood pressure and high cholesterol
- Look forward to a healthy lifestyle
Benefits of balloon aortic valvuloplasty:
- Shorter recovery time than other surgeries
- Delay chances of surgeries for a few years
- Can show results as good as surgical replacement or repair
FAQs for Balloon Aortic Valvuloplasty
Balloon Aortic Valvuloplasty is also called BAV. This procedure helps in stretching the aortic valve and improving the blood flow. This procedure has been performed with the help of a catheter and allows the balloon to open a narrowed valve. Balloon Aortic Valvuloplasty is used for those patients who do not require major heart surgery.
Aortic valve disease may be caused due to various reasons such as – heart defect present at birth, rheumatic fever, high blood pressure, age-related changes, infections, or injury to the heart.
There are many risk factors related to Aortic Valve Disease such as congenital heart disease, cardiovascular diseases, old age, chronic kidney disease, and a history of radiation therapy.
Yes, light exercise and walking are always beneficial for a speedy recovery and healing process. Physiotherapists always recommend light and strengthening exercises after the surgery, which can be done at home.
The patient has to be careful with some activities like – bending, pulling, stretching, and pushing. These activities should be avoided for 8 weeks after the surgery. While coughing and taking deep breaths, the patient requires holding a pillow on your upper chest. Do not pressurize the arms to support the upper body and always make sure that the upper chest should not get twisted. Also, avoid driving till 6 weeks and before starting driving again, take clearance from the surgeon.
After surgery, doctors will prescribe specific medications based on the pain level and type of surgery, which include pumps, intravenous medicines, and painkillers that help in reducing post-operative pain.
It takes 2 to 3 hours to prepare for the surgery and almost 1 hour to complete the surgery. Patients need to stay in the hospital for 1 night after the surgery and recovery will take a few weeks depending upon the condition of the patient.
There are some reasons due to which Balloon Aortic Valvuloplasty is required including – severe valve narrowing and aortic valve stenosis. The symptoms of aortic valve stenosis are abnormal heart sound, chest pain (angina), and tightness.
There are several types of balloon valvuloplasty, depending upon which heart valve is involved in the procedure such as percutaneous balloon tricuspid valvuloplasty, percutaneous balloon pulmonary valvuloplasty, and percutaneous balloon mitral valvuloplasty.
After the procedure, the patient will be taken to the Cath Lab Recovery unit for detailed observation. The doctor will monitor the heart rate and rhythm. Medicines and fluid will be given by drip. After a few blood tests and an echocardiogram, which is important to check kidney and heart functions. The patient can go home after getting clearance from the doctor.
There are many things that patients can follow to improve their health before and after BAV. It is important to quit smoking before the procedure. Patients should keep their weight in check. Consult with the dentist to make sure that the teeth and gums are healthy. Also, consult with a general physician and make sure that there is no issue regarding asthma, diabetes bronchitis, cholesterol, thyroid problems, or high blood pressure. It is important to take care of hygiene before and after the procedure. Take shower in the morning before the surgery and use antiseptic body wash, and do not shave your chest, arm, leg, and groin.
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