What is heart valve replacement surgery?
The human heart contains four valves which help keep blood flowing in the proper direction. If one of the valves fails, one of the possible treatment options is for it to be replaced. By far the most common valve that needs replacing is the aortic valve, followed by the mitral valve. The other two are rarely subject to valve replacement surgery.
The replacement valve may be mechanical, meaning that it is made from synthetic material. The advantage of this type is that it is extremely durable, almost always lasting the entire lifetime of the patient. The drawback is that the patient will usually have to take anticoagulant drugs permanently in order to avoid blood clots. This may lead to certain health problems.
Alternately, the replacement valve may be made from living tissue taken from a human donor, or a cow or a pig. These valves may not last as long as mechanical valves, but the patient will usually be able to avoid having to take anticoagulant medicines.
What countries are the most popular destinations for this procedure?
Mexico, Turkey, India, Thailand, Costa Rica, and more.
What is the range of prices?
An American can expect to pay anywhere from $85,000 to as much as $170,000,
$25,000 in the U.K.,
$15,000 to $30,000 in Costa Rica,
$13,000 to $25,000 in Thailand,
$13,000 to $34,000 in Turkey,
$12,500 to $28,000 in Mexico,
$9,000 to $10,000 in India.
What are the common complications if the procedure is performed abroad?
Heart valve replacement is a major surgery, so even under optimal conditions it carries risks of major complications. These include infection, bleeding, blood clots, arrhythmia, pneumonia, valve failure, and reactions to anaesthesia.
This is especially true when combined with the stress of international travel while seriously ill or after surgery. Complications are also more likely if the procedure is performed in a facility that lacks international accreditation or fails to meet accepted standards of hygiene, modernity, or professionalism.
A news story from the U.K. in 2016 told the heartbreaking story of a young father who needed heart valve replacement surgery. Shockingly, he had the wrong valve implanted and died as a result.