Ask the doctor: Which type of replacement valve should I get?

Q. I am 77 years old, and my doctor recommended surgery to replace my aortic valve. He said my choice is between a mechanical valve and a pig valve. Which is the preferred option?

A. Generally, people with mechanical and tissue (pig) valves do comparably well. However, your age and other factors can play a role in selecting one or the other. Tissue valves typically wear out before mechanical valves do, often in 15 years or less.

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