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Valve Disease

Cause and What to Watch For

The heart has four valves that keep the blood moving in the correct direction. Any of these valves can develop problems, becoming too thick (stenotic) or too leaky (regurgitant). If the valve does not work correctly this can cause the heart pump to malfunction, which may lead to problems such as heart failure.

Symptoms that you may experience:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Passing out or lightheadedness
  • Palpitations (flutter feeling in your chest)
  • Lack of energy
  • Fluid retention (swelling in legs)
  • Trouble lying flat

How to Diagnose Valve Disease

Your doctor will perform a physical exam and may hear a murmur. Imaging tests such as an echocardiogram, CT scan or MRI scan of the heart help to diagnose possible valve disease. You may need a heart catheterization to examine how well the valves are working.

How to Treat Valve Disease

We use a team approach to evaluate and develop individual treatment recommendations for patients diagnosed with heart valve disease.

  • Medications
    • Diuretics: Fluid pills that help get rid of extra fluid
    • Beta blockers: Relax the heart
  • Minimally invasive procedures
    • Balloons: Can open the tight valve
    • Clips: Can lessen the amount of leak
    • Stent valves: Can replace the broken valve with a new valve that is mounted inside a stent
  • Surgical procedures
    • The old valve is either repaired or replaced during an open-heart procedure. Some valve procedures can be done with small incisions.

Specific Therapies

  • TAVR (Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement)
    • A stenotic aortic valve is replaced with a new valve that is mounted on a stent. The stent pushes the old valve out of the way and then the new valve starts working. This is typically done through a small puncture in the leg artery. Usually stay overnight.
  • Mitral Clip
    • A leaky mitral valve is fixed with a clip that grabs floppy ends of the valve and pinches them together. Typically done through a tube in the leg vein. Usually stay overnight.