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Heart valve disease

When one or more of your heart’s four valves don’t work properly, you are considered to have heart valve disease. The two most common areas where disorders occur are in the aortic and mitral valves. When they don’t close properly, when the blood is pumping in reverse direction, when the valves harden and stiffen, interventions are necessary.

Diagnostics to detect aortic heart valve disease include:

Electrocardiogram (EKG) — Electrical pulses generated by your heart are measured and evaluated to determine if there are any anomalies or unusual conditions present.

Echocardiogram — Sound waves are directed to your heart through a device that is held up to your chest. The sound waves cause a pattern that allows the physician to see if valves and other parts of the heart are operating properly.

Cardiac catheterization — A liquid dye is injected through a narrow tube (catheter) into an artery leading to the heart to allow special pictures to be taken to see if there are blockages or narrowed arteries that could pose a health threat.

Procedures to treat aortic heart valve disease include:

Balloon valvuloplasty — This minimally invasive, interventional procedure inserts a balloon through a narrow tube (catheter) to the valve opening. The balloon is then enlarged, stretching the valve opening to improve blood flow.

Aortic valve repair — If the valve can be repaired, surgeons will develop a plan to repair the aortic valve that may involve a number of different approaches.

Aortic valve replacement — Surgeons remove the aortic valve and replace it with either a tissue valve or mechanical valve.

Surgical valvuloplasty — Traditional, “open” surgery during which the surgeon repairs the heart valve to return it to proper operating efficiency.

Diagnostics to detect mitral heart valve disease include:

Electrocardiogram (EKG) — Electrical pulses generated by your heart are measured and evaluated to determine if there are any anomalies or unusual conditions present.

Echocardiogram — Sound waves are directed to your heart through a device that is held up to your chest. The sound waves cause a pattern that allows the physician to see if valves and other parts of the heart are operating properly.

Holter monitoring — This simple machine allows leads to be placed on your chest to record your heart’s electrical activity for a period of 24 hours or more.

Stress test — Measurement of your heart signals and blood pressure during exercise (while walking on a treadmill). The test may include pictures being taken of your heart while you are at rest and after you have exercised.

Transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) — This echocardiogram is performed after a narrow imaging tube is passed through your esophagus to get the most accurate view of your heart.

Cardiac catheterization — A liquid dye is injected through a narrow tube (catheter) into an artery leading to the heart to allow special pictures to be taken to see if there are blockages or narrowed arteries that could pose a health threat.

Procedures to treat mitral heart valve disease include:

Balloon valvotomy — During this minimally invasive interventional procedure surgeons insert a balloon through a small tube (catheter) to the valve opening and then enlarge the balloon, stretching the valve opening to improve blood flow.

Mitral valve replacement — Surgeons remove the faulty mitral valve and replace it with either a tissue valve or mechanical valve.

Mitral valve repair — Surgeons repair the mitral valve using either open, traditional surgery or —  depending upon the patient and condition of the heart valve — minimally invasive surgery.

 

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