Anticoagulant independent mechanical heart valves: viable now or still a distant holy grail
Valvular heart disease remains a large public heath problem for all societies; it attracts the attention of public health organizations, researchers and governments. Valve substitution is an integral part of the treatment for this condition. At present, the choice of valve prosthesis is either tissue or mechanical. Tissue valves have become increasingly popular in spite of unresolved problems with durability, hemodynamics, cost and need for anticoagulation therapy. As a consequence, mechanical valve innovation has virtually ceased; the last successful mechanical design is 25 years old. We postulate that with improved technology, knowledge and experience gained over the last quarter century, the best possible solution to the problem of valve substitution can be achieved with a mechanical valve that is anticoagulant independent, durable, hemodynamically and cost efficient. At present, it is possible to design, test and produce a valve that can accomplish these goals.