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More than five million Americans are diagnosed with valvular disease each year. Valvular disease occurs if one or more of your heart valves does not work correctly.
The heart has four valves: the tricuspid, pulmonary, mitral, and aortic valves. These valves have tissue flaps, called leaflets, that open and close with each heartbeat. The leaflets make sure blood flows in the right direction through your heart's four chambers and to the rest of your body. Valvular disease causes the heart muscles to work harder to circulate the correct amount of blood through the body.
There are two main forms of the condition: valvular stenosis and valvular insufficiency.
Disease of the heart valves can be caused by any number of factors, the most common of which are:
The effects of valvular disease vary, and may include:
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, discuss it with your physician.
Valve repair or replacement is the way to correct valve disorders. These surgical procedures are completed with open-chest heart valve surgery, using either a mechanical valve or valves made from tissue (cow, pig, or human).
For aortic valve disease, replacement is the most common approach. Over the last two decades, valve repair has emerged as the preferred procedure for treating leaking mitral or tricuspid valves. A vast array of valve repair techniques exists.
Valve replacement or repair may be performed through minimally invasive approaches. This type of procedure is performed through a small incision and leads to a quicker recovery and a better cosmetic result.
Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is a less invasive procedure used to replace the aortic valve. This approach replaces the narrowed or diseased valve using a catheter and does not require opening the chest. It can often be done without general anesthesia. The mitral valve can also be repaired using a catheter, allowing a surgeon to place a clip on the valve in order to reduce or eliminate a leak.
What treatment option is right for you depends on many factors. Your cardiac surgeon, in collaboration with your cardiologist, will review your medical record and diagnostic imaging results to determine the best option for you.
Our Structural Heart Program consists of a multidisciplinary team that includes interventional cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, echocardiography specialists and nurse practitioners who will provide individualized recommendations for either surgical versus transcatheter therapies.
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