Valvular Heart Disease
Valvular heart disease occurs when your heart’s valves do not function effectively due to damage or a defect in one of the four heart valves: the mitral valve, aortic valve, tricuspid valve and pulmonary valve. Deterioration of the heart muscle is also known as cardiomyopathy.
When valves function properly, blood flows with the proper force in the right direction at the right time. In someone with valvular heart disease, the valves become too narrow and stenotic or hardened to open fully or to close completely. Or the valves allow blood to leak or regurgitate in the wrong direction. Therefore, blood backs up into a nearby heart chamber or leaks into the chamber that it just exited.
Physicians affiliated with St. Vincent’s Regional Heart & Vascular Center have the training, skill and experience to diagnose and treat valve problems such as aortic valve stenosis with surgical and non-surgical procedures such as TAVR.
- Shortness of breath
- Weakness or dizziness
- Chest discomfort
- Swelling of ankles, feet or abdomen
- Rapid weight gain
Severity of symptoms is not always related to the severity of valve disease, however. Some people with severe valve disease may have no symptoms, while others may be symptomatic but not have a significant problem.
- Congenital valve disease: valve disease that develops before birth including valves that are abnormal in size, shape or function.
- Rheumatic fever
- Bacterial endocarditis, an infection of the inner lining of the heart muscle and valves
- High blood pressure
- Heart attack
- Aging process
- Connective tissue diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus
- Syphilis, a sexually transmitted disease
- Certain medications, radiation
Physicians at St. Vincent's Regional Heart & Vascular Center will conduct a complete physical paying particular attention to listening for heart murmurs.
If warranted, the following tests will be performed:
Heart-Healthy Lifestyle Changes:
- Lifestyle changes such as adapting diet and exercise plans, quitting smoking and losing weight, can sometimes be enough to manage certain heart problems including valvular issues. Lowering your dietary salt intake is also recommended.
- Successful intervention early-on can reduce your risk of serious heart complications down the road. Click here for American Heart Association healthy-heart lifestyle guidelines.
- A course of antibiotics can sometimes be prescribed prior to certain procedures.
But when these lifestyle changes are not enough, your cardiologist at St. Vincent’s Regional Heart & Vascular Center will take a complete history, perform a thorough examination and create a treatment plan for you. He or she may recommend the following:
If you or a loved one suspects a damaged heart valve or would like to speak with one of our physicians about treatment options for valvular heart disease, please call 203-576-5708.
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To speak with a St. Vincent's Care Line representative, call (877) 255-7847
To speak with someone at the front desk of the Medical Center, please call (203) 576-6000
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