Harvard Heart Letter

Smaller surgery speeds recovery from valve fix

A less invasive operation to repair or replace a faulty valve rivals full, open-heart surgery.

There's no simple remedy for a failing heart valve. It must be replaced or repaired. At least for now, this means surgery.

Traditional valve surgery requires splitting the breastbone from top to bottom, spreading the ribs, stopping the heart, and using a machine to circulate and oxygenate the blood. It is a very effective procedure and, when done by an experienced surgeon, is as safe as a major operation can be.

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