Study: Mechanical heart valves disturb sleep

Researchers found 87 percent of men and 75 percent of women with mechanical heart valves reported being able to hear the closing sound of their mechanical valve when they slept.
By Amy Wallace   |   May 19, 2017 at 10:42 AM

May 19 (UPI) -- A new study by Haukeland University in Norway has found nearly one-quarter of patients with a mechanical heart valve report the valve disturbs their sleep.

The study, which was presented at the EuroHeartCare 2017 annual meeting, examined how the noise of a mechanical heart valve impacted patients' lives and sleep.

"For some patients the closing sound of their mechanical heart valve reduces their quality of life, disturbs their sleep, causes them to avoid social situations, and leads to depression and anxiety," Dr. Kjersti Oterhals, a nurse researcher at Haukeland University, said in a press release.

The study consisted of 908 patients who underwent aortic valve replacement at Haukeland University Hospital between 2000 and 2011 and participated in the survey.

Participants were an average age of 60 and 76 percent of participants were men. Researchers asked patients if their valve sound was audible to them or others, if they felt uneasy about the sound, if the sound disturbed them during the day or at night during sleep and if they wanted to replace the mechanical valve with a soundless prosthetic valve if possible.

Nearly 87 percent of men and 75 percent of women said they were able to hear the sound of their mechanical heart valve closing, and 53 percent reported no insomnia, 31 percent had subclinical insomnia and 17 percent had moderate to severe insomnia.

Roughly 23 percent of patients said the valve sound disturbed them during sleep and 9 percent said it disturbed them during the day. About 28 percent of participants wanted to replace their valve with a soundless prosthetic valve if possible.

The study found that more than 51 percent of patients reported the noise was audible to others and 16 percent said they felt uneasy about others hearing it.

"Almost one-fourth of patients said that the sound of their mechanical heart valve makes it difficult for them to sleep," Oterhals said. "Most of us need a quiet environment when we are going to sleep and these patients found it hard to ignore the noise from the valve."

Researchers found that patients coped with the noise at night by sleeping on their right side to reduce valve noise.

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