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The American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology guidelines for valve replacement say that mechanical valves are reasonable for patients 70 and younger, while tissue valves are reasonable for patients 50 and older.1
Tissue valves typically last up to 15 years, and often less in younger patients. Some tissue valves fail after 4 to 6 years in patients less than 65 years old. Some tissue valves fail after 7 to 10 years in patients greater than 65 years. 2 Over time, tissue valves will likely degenerate to the point of requiring replacement. The primary advantage of mechanical valves is that they will typically last a patient’s lifetime. Because of this, mechanical valves are often selected for patients with life expectancies beyond 10-15 years.