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Starr-Edwards artificial cardiac valves

The Starr-Edwards design was the first successful prosthetic heart valve, and came into use in 1961. The device consists of a metal ball inserted into a metal cage coated with Teflon. When put in place, the arrangement only allows blood to flow in one direction to act as a mechanical replacement for a biological mitral valve. However, patients needed to take anticoagulant drugs for the rest of their lives to prevent blood clots forming around the valve. The valve is named after its inventors – Albert Starr, an American cardiac surgeon, and Lowell Edwards, an electrical engineer. Starr-Edwards valves eventually declined in use, being replaced by less mechanical models and valves from pigs, cows and humans.

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Glossary: artificial heart valve

A device implanted into patients who have suffered a malfunction of their heart valves. (The heart valves restrict the flow of blood to one direction.)