Living with Your Aortic Valve Implant

Maintaining a Heart Healthy, Low-Salt Diet

Salt is a mineral that is made of sodium and chloride. It is found in food, table salt, and sea salt.

Too much salt in your diet can cause fluid to build up, forcing your heart to work harder.

A low-salt diet will help your heart to work more efficiently and place less stress on your heart valve. It may even keep you out of the hospital.

The following tips can help you to lower salt and keep your diet heart-healthy.

Read Food Labels

  • Choose any food in which the sodium (salt) content is 8% or less per serving

Reduce Salt in Cooking and Avoid Adding Salt at the Table

  • Replace salt with fresh or dried herbs, unsalted spices, lemon juice, and flavoured vinegars
  • Rinse canned vegetables before using them in cooking
  • Try Mrs. Dash or McCormick’s No Added Salt seasoning blends

Prepare Meals Using Fresh Ingredients

  • Use fresh or frozen foods wherever possible
  • Aim for a variety of food from each food group every day
  • Use canola or olive oils instead of hydrogenated or trans fats
  • Don’t forget about keeping fibre up with whole grains and unsalted nuts and seeds

For more details about how to manage salt and fluid, ask for a copy of Heart Failure Patient Guide.

Eating Healthy

Making healthy food choices doesn’t have to be overwhelming. These tips will get you on your way.

  1. Cook at home more often. Cooking at home makes it easier to avoid processed foods. It can be as simple as scrambled eggs, whole grain toast, tomato and cucumber slices.
  2. How you eat is as important as what you eat. Enjoy mealtimes and the food you eat! Don’t multitask. Avoid distractions like your computer or TV while you eat. Sit down and enjoy a meal at the table. If you live with others, make family dinner a priority.
  3. Listen to your body. Eat when you’re hungry and stop when you feel satisfied.
  4. Eat at regular times. Eat breakfast within one to two hours after waking up. Don’t wait too long between your meals. It’s harder to make healthy choices when you’re hungry.
  5. Plan healthy snacks. Try whole grain crackers and peanut butter or hummus, a piece of fruit and a few unsalted nuts, or frozen berries and plain yogurt.
  6. Eat a variety of vegetables and fruit at every meal. Enjoy brightly coloured whole vegetables and fruit. Fresh or frozen, try them in different ways—raw, roasted, or sautéed.
  7. Eat whole grains more often. Switch to brown rice, whole wheat pasta, dark rye bread or oatmeal. Try something new in your soup, salad or casserole like quinoa, bulgur or barley.
  8. Eat fish at least twice a week. Trout, salmon, tuna and sardines are some tasty options. Try fresh, frozen or canned.
  9. Include legumes like beans, chickpeas, lentils, nuts and seeds more often. Add them to salads, soups and grain dishes such as rice, quinoa or couscous. Legumes can replace meat in your meals. Try a vegetarian chili.
  10. Don’t be afraid of fat. You need fat for good health and it adds flavour to your cooking. Use plant-based fats such as olive or canola oil.

Preventing Complications

Bacteria in your mouth can enter your blood-stream through your gums and infect your heart tissues and valves.

  • Keep your teeth and gums as healthy and clean as possible by regular brushing and flossing.
  • For the first six months after your implant procedure, do not have any dental work done, including a cleaning, unless you have a toothache or an abscess.
  • After the first six months, make sure you see a dentist at least once a year.
  • Tell your dentist you have had valve surgery.
  • You will need to take antibiotics before any dental cleaning or treatments. Your dentist or family doctor will give you a prescription before your appointment.

Preventing Other Infections

Preventing Other Infections

Your skin is a barrier against infection. Protect your skin by avoiding any body piercing or tattooing. Pay careful attention to any breaks or cuts in your skin.

Contact your doctor immediately if you develop:

  • A fever
  • An abscess or boil
  • A cut that has become swollen or tender or draining pus
  • Any other suspected infections including urinary tract infections

Notify your doctor if you experience increased shortness of breath or swelling of your ankles or feet.

Medic-Alert Bracelet

You will receive a Medic-Alert application form when you are discharged. Please wear this bracelet to alert health care professionals that you have an artificial heart valve. 

Follow-up Appointments

You will be given an appointment to see either your cardiologist or your cardiac surgeon about one month after your valve implant procedure. You will have another echocardiogram on the day of this appointment.

Keep Your Healthcare Team Informed

Inform any healthcare professional involved in your care that you have had a transcatheter valve implant procedure. This includes your family doctor, any other doctors that you see, your pharmacist, physiotherapist, home nurse, or anyone else who helps you to keep healthy.

If you have any questions, call the TAVI Advanced Practice Nurse
Phone: 613-696-7000 x18826

If you need help outside of normal business hours, call the Nursing Coordinator
Phone: 613-696-7000. Press 0 and ask for the nursing coordinator

Where to Find More Information

General Information 

The University of Ottawa Heart Institute’s website can provide you with information concerning all aspects of heart disease.

Diagnostic Tests

Test Brief Description

This test uses ultrasound (high-frequency sound waves) to look at your heart and how the different parts of your heart are working—for example, the different chambers, or your heart valves. 


An echocardiogram is performed by placing a hand-held ultrasound wand on your chest. By positioning the wand, the sonographer can evaluate the functioning of your heart.

Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE)

This is a specialized type of echocardiogram test. It uses a special thin, flexible tube that is inserted down through your throat through to your stomach.


The reason for having a TEE is that your doctor is able to get a very good look at your heart without interference from your ribs and lungs.

Cardiac Catheterization

Cardiac catheterization is a procedure used to detect and treat some types of heart problems. A thin flexible tube called a catheter is inserted into an artery and/or vein located in the groin area (or the arm) and guided to the heart. Cardiac catheterization is used to: 

  • Evaluate or confirm the presence of coronary artery disease, valve disease or disease of the aorta
  • Determine the need for further treatment (such as an interventional procedure or coronary artery bypass graft, or CABG, surgery)
ECG (Electrocardiogram)  An electrocardiogram (ECG) is a test that measures and records the electrical activity of your heart.
Chest X-ray A chest X-ray lets doctors take pictures of the structures inside your chest, including your heart, lungs, blood vessels, and bones. X-ray pictures of the chest can show how large your heart is and whether there is too much fluid in your lungs (pulmonary edema) caused by heart failure.
CT Scan A computed tomography (CT) scan is a type of Xray test that lets doctors take three-dimensional (3-D) pictures of your heart and blood vessels. The CT scanner combines the specialized X-rays with a high-powered computer that reconstructs the information into 3-D views.


Heart Healthy and Low Salt Diets

For more information about a low salt diet, see Healthy Eating.

Talking to Your Doctor

Risks and Complications

Your cardiologist and cardiac surgeon will fully discuss the risks of this procedure with you and your family. When talking to your doctor, the following is a list of questions that may help you to decide whether this procedure is right for you.

  • How would this procedure benefit me?
  • What are the risks of this procedure for me?
  • How painful is the procedure?
  • How long is the waiting list for this procedure?
  • How long will this valve last?
  • How will I be followed up?
  • Will long-term medication or medication changes be required after the procedure?

Heart Institute Patient Alumni

 We Can Help, We Have Been There

The Patient Alumni are a diverse community of current and former University of Ottawa Heart Institute patients and their families, friends and caregivers. We gratefully support the Institute by sharing information on advancements in the prevention and treatment of heart disease and by designating funds for projects and services that improve patient comfort and care.

By joining the Alumni, you will become part of a very unique community!

The Heart Institute is the only hospital in Canada that has formed an alumni group to stay in contact with discharged patients and their families. For over 40 years, the Heart Institute has delivered worldclass care to thousands of patients. As Alumni members, we wish to stay in touch, stay informed, and contribute to the Institute’s quality of care and future success.

Why Join the Alumni?

Alumni membership is free of charge, thanks to the partnership and financial support of the Heart Institute and its fundraising Foundation.

As an Alumni member, you’ll get up-to-date information through our:

  • e-letters
  • Websites
  • Lectures, courses and special events

For more information and access to free membership, visit our website

Or contact us at:
Tel: 613-696-7241