Mechanical valves used for aortic valve replacement (AVR) continue to be associated with bleeding risks because of anticoagulation therapy, while bioprosthetic valves are at risk of structural valve deterioration requiring reoperation. This risk/benefit ratio of mechanical and bioprosthetic valves has led American and European guidelines on valvular heart disease to be consistent in recommending the use of mechanical prostheses in patients younger than 60 years of age. Despite these recommendations, the use of bioprosthetic valves has significantly increased over the last decades in all age groups. A systematic review of manuscripts applying propensity-matching or multivariable analysis to compare the usage of mechanical vs. bioprosthetic valves found either similar outcomes between the two types of valves or favourable outcomes with mechanical prostheses, particularly in younger patients. The risk/benefit ratio and choice of valves will be impacted by developments in valve designs, anticoagulation therapy, reducing the required international normalized ratio, and transcatheter and minimally invasive procedures. However, there is currently no evidence to support lowering the age threshold for implanting a bioprosthesis. Physicians in the Heart Team and patients should be cautious in pursuing more bioprosthetic valve use until its benefit is clearly proven in middle-aged patients.
Keywords: Anticoagulation; Aortic valve replacement; Biological; Bioprosthesis; Bioprosthetic; Heart valve; Mechanical; Review; Sutureless; Tissue; Tissue engineered heart valve; Transcatheter aortic valve implantation.
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