Transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) is a procedure that implants a replacement aortic valve in the heart. Your doctor used a catheter to put in your new heart valve.
After the procedure, you may spend up to a few days in the hospital.
Most people can return to regular activities in about 2 weeks. Your doctor may give you specific instructions on when you can do your normal activities again.
Your doctor may suggest that you attend a cardiac rehab program. In cardiac rehab, a team of health professionals provides education and support to help you recover and prevent problems with your heart. Ask your doctor if rehab is right for you.
This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to feel better as quickly as possible.
How can you care for yourself at home?
- Do not do strenuous exercise and do not lift, pull, or push anything heavy until your doctor says it is okay. This may be for several days.
- If the catheter was placed in your groin, try not to walk up stairs for the first couple of days.
- Rest when you feel tired.
- Ask your doctor when you can drive again.
- Eat a heart-healthy diet. If you have not been eating this way, talk to your doctor. You also may want to talk to a dietitian. They can help you learn about healthy foods.
- If your bowel movements are not regular right after the procedure, try to avoid constipation and straining. Drink plenty of water. Your doctor may suggest fiber, a stool softener, or a mild laxative.
- Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. You will also get instructions about taking any new medicines.
- If you stopped taking aspirin or some other blood thinner, your doctor will tell you when to start taking it again.
- Your doctor may prescribe aspirin or some other blood-thinning medicine. Be sure to get instructions about how to take your medicine safely. Blood thinners can cause serious bleeding problems.
- Be safe with medicines. Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.
Care of the catheter site
- For 1 or 2 days, keep a bandage over the spot where the catheter was inserted. The bandage probably will fall off in this time.
- Put ice or a cold pack on the area for 10 to 20 minutes at a time to help with soreness or swelling. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin.
- You may shower 24 to 48 hours after the procedure, if your doctor okays it. Pat the incision dry.
- Do not soak the catheter site until it is healed. Don't take a bath for 1 week, or until your doctor tells you it is okay.
- Watch for bleeding from the site. A small amount of blood (up to the size of a quarter) on the bandage can be normal.
- If you are bleeding, lie down and press on the area for 15 minutes to try to make it stop. If the bleeding does not stop, call your doctor or seek immediate medical care.
- Practice good dental hygiene and have regular checkups. Good dental health is especially important. That's because bacteria can spread from teeth and gums to the heart valves.
- Be sure to tell all of your doctors and your dentist that you have a replacement aortic valve. This is important because you may need to take antibiotics before certain procedures to prevent infection.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
When should you call for help?
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
- You passed out (lost consciousness).
- You have symptoms of a stroke. These may include:
- Sudden numbness, tingling, weakness, or loss of movement in your face, arm, or leg, especially on only one side of your body.
- Sudden vision changes.
- Sudden trouble speaking.
- Sudden confusion or trouble understanding simple statements.
- Sudden problems with walking or balance.
- A sudden, severe headache that is different from past headaches.
- You have symptoms of a heart attack. These may include:
- Chest pain or pressure, or a strange feeling in the chest.
- Shortness of breath.
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Pain, pressure, or a strange feeling in the back, neck, jaw, or upper belly or in one or both shoulders or arms.
- A fast or irregular heartbeat.
Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:
- You are bleeding from the area where the catheter was put in your artery.
- You have a fast-growing, painful lump at the catheter site.
- You have signs of infection, such as:
- Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
- Red streaks leading from the catheter site.
- Pus draining from the catheter site.
- A fever.
- Your leg is painful, looks blue, or feels cold, numb, or tingly.
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if you have any problems.
Where can you learn more?
Enter P870 in the search box to learn more about "Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI): What to Expect at Home".