I'm 31, had AVR in August 2021, and have been playing basketball and ultimate frisbee again since January 2022. Laid out over someone's shoulder playing frisbee on Monday, bruised my hand yesterday. Haven't taken any serious blows to the head or bled uncontrollably, as I eat well and have a relatively stable INR.
My valve is On-X, my target range is 1.5-2. My cardiologist has not discouraged me from playing basketball at all. My pharmacists are the ones who are wary about it, but I think that's just because their mind immediately goes to the bleeding risks that are stamped all over the pills they hand out.
My cardiologist, on the other hand, seemed far more worried about me becoming sedentary and not taking care of myself. He just tells me to be wary if I hit my head or suffer any serious impact. Otherwise, "no restrictions" was what he said. Weightlifting in the range of 15-20 reps was recommended as well, to avoid sending my blood pressure sky-high and dilating my aorta, which might result in the need for another AVR.
The fact of the matter is there is some risk involved in what I'm doing, but I'm taking that risk on because I want to live my life. Furthermore, that risk is attenuated to a degree because (1) if I hit my head, I'm not gonna hop in the car and drive 20 hours, I'm going to get myself to an ER where doctors can do their magic.
Rather than scaring myself, I remind myself of this: my endocarditis would have killed me without a doubt 100 years ago. These days, the AVR is a fairly routine procedure. As long as I listen to my body, consult with doctors about anything that ails me or is bothering me, and otherwise take good care of myself, I can live my life normally.