ZEPHYR / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY ZEPHYR / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Prosthetic heart valve. Coloured 3D CT (computed tomography) scan of a 70-year-old patient's chest. This is an oblique view of the left side, looking towards the front of the chest (left). The prosthetic heart valve (white) is seen at centre, where the aorta (orange) meets the heart (blue, lower centre). The stitches used to close the chest are seen at upper left. The heart valves prevent backflow of blood in the heart. If they start to fail, a condition known as incompetence, then the patient may not get enough oxygenated blood. This leads to shortness of breath, chest pain and possibly a heart attack. The replacement valve here is artificial, but some can be from donors or even from other animals, usually a pig.
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