The most common type of valve used in the United States is the St. Jude valve. In more than 20 years of experience using the St. Jude valve, surgeons at Cedars-Sinai have never had a mechanical valve fail.
While a mechanical valve has an unlimited life, its disadvantage is that patients must take blood thinning medicine (often warfarin) for the rest of their lives and have a blood test done every four to six weeks.
Mechanical valves are recommended for patients:
- With long expected life spans
- With a mechanical valve already in place at a different site than the new valve
- In kidney failure, on hemodialysis or with hypercalcemia (high blood calcium)
- Already taking blood thinners because of a risk of a blocked blood vessel
- Older than 65
- Undergoing valve re-replacement for a blocked tissue valve
- Who can take blood thinners