TUESDAY, Aug. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Heart patients who need a new aortic valve are more likely to survive and have a better quality of life if a valve from their own pulmonary artery is used, instead of an aortic valve from a dead donor, new research has found.

The aortic valve connects the left ventricle of the heart with the aorta, which is the body's main artery. The pulmonary valve connects the heart to the pulmonary artery, which carries blood from the heart to the lungs.

In this study, 108 patients had their malfunctioning aortic valve replaced with their own pulmonary valve (autograft). Their pulmonary valve was then replaced with a pulmonary valve from a dead donor. Another 108 patients had their aortic valve replaced with an aortic valve from a dead donor (homograft).

After 10 years, four patients in the autograft group and 15 patients in the homograft group had died. This means that patients in the homograft group were more than four times more likely to die, according to the report published online Aug. 3 in The Lancet.

In addition, the patients in the autograft group were less likely to require further surgery and had better quality of life, the study authors noted.

"Our results support the hypothesis that a living valve implanted in the aortic position can lead to significantly improved clinical outcomes in patients," Sir Magdi Yacoub, of the Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust, London, and Imperial College London, and colleagues concluded.

More information

The Society of Thoracic Surgeons has more about the aortic valve.