Heart Valve Disease
Heart valves work in conjunction with the four chambers of your heart to keep oxygen-rich blood flowing into your heart, lungs and other areas of the body. The term “heart valve disease” describes two common conditions:
- Stenosis, in which the heart valve doesn’t fully open because of build-up of cholesterol or calcium on the leaflets of the aortic valve
- Regurgitation, in which the valve doesn’t close tightly, allowing blood to leak backward across the valve
Your heart is working harder than it should if you have either type of valve disease. Heart valve disease can develop before birth or at any age because of infection or exposure to other diseases.
Among the heart's four valves, the aortic valve is more likely to develop stenosis. The physicians and staff at the Valve Clinic at Parkview Heart Institute work with your primary care physician to determine the seriousness of your valve disease and recommend treatment for you.
Heart valve disease symptoms
Symptoms of moderate to serious stenosis include:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Lightheadedness or fainting
If you have mild aortic valve stenosis, you may not have any symptoms. Left untreated, though, the condition can continue to worsen and, eventually, symptoms will appear.
Heart valve disease diagnosis
As a patient of the Valve Clinic at Parkview Heart Institute, you will meet with a cardiologist and a cardiovascular surgeon in one convenient visit. The care team will discuss your symptoms, medical history and risk factors and perform a physical exam.
Diagnostic tests may also be ordered to help identify appropriate treatment, including an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) or cardiac catheterization.
Heart valve disease treatment
The best type of treatment for you depends on the type and severity of your heart valve disease. Typically, though, treatment focuses on relieving symptoms and repairing or replacing the ineffective value during surgery.
If you have a mild case of stenosis, medication may be effective in treating any symptoms that occur. The only effective treatment for moderate to serious stenosis is replacement of the aortic valve. Valve replacement can be done at the Valve Clinic at Parkview Heart Institute using several techniques:
- Open-heart surgery is the most common surgical approach. A cardiovascular surgeon removes the diseased valve and replaces it with an artificial one. Such valves come in various sizes to fit your anatomy, and are made from a variety of materials.
- Minimally invasive surgery is a procedure that can be done with a smaller incision, which leaves less scarring.
- Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is a less invasive procedure especially suited for individuals who are considered to be at high risk for other treatments.
Appointments & Referrals
Find information about how to be referred to the Valve Clinic and what to expect as a new patient.