Heart Valve Disease
What is Heart Valve Disease?
Heart valve disease occurs when there is dysfunction in one of the four heart valves: the mitral, aortic, tricuspid or pulmonary.
- Mitral and tricuspid valves controls the flow of blood between the atria and the ventricles (the upper and lower chambers of the heart)
- Pulmonary valve controls the flow of blood from the heart to the lungs
- Aortic valve controls the flow of blood between the heart and the aorta, and thereby the blood vessels to the rest of the body
Normally functioning valves make sure that blood flows in one direction. When dysfunction of the heart valves occurs, the valves may become narrow (valvular stenosis) or may leak (valvular regurgitation). This can lead to chronic heart problems including:
- Enlargement of the heart chambers
- Heart failure
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
You may also have heart valve disease if you have a heart murmur. If you have a heart murmur, it is a good idea to find out why so you can make sure it is not a symptom of heart problems.
Treatment for Valvular Heart Disease
Treatment for valvular heart disease usually involves the following:
- Medical intervention. Medicine(s) are prescribed to reduce the strain on the heart.
- Valve surgery. This surgery requires your cardiac surgeon to repair or replace the valves.
The physicians at MedStar Heart Institute at MedStar Washington Hospital Center offer a full range of surgical procedures for all forms of valvular heart disease. We are well known for our excellent results in mitral valve repairs. The Society of Thoracic Surgeons has recently developed a comprehensive rating system that allows for comparisons regarding the quality of cardiac surgery among hospitals across the country. Approximately 15 percent of hospitals receive the “3-star” rating, which denotes the highest category of quality. In the current analysis of national data, the cardiac surgery performance our hospital was found to lie in the highest quality tier, thereby receiving an STS 3-star rating.
Treatment techniques performed by our heart surgeons include:
- Valve Repair. Our surgeons perform the area’s largest percentage of repaired, not replaced valves. This reduces future complications and the need for medications such as blood thinners. Our state-of-the-art imaging allows for more accurate diagnosis and repair of diseased or damaged valves. Further, a cardiac ultrasound physician is involved in all complex valve cases, helping to guide the procedure, leading to a greater number of successful outcomes.
- Valve Replacement. For valves that cannot be repaired, our physicians have expertise in a wide array of techniques and devices for valve replacement.
Options currently In Clinical Trial:
- Percutaneous Aortic Valve Replacement. We are one of only a few Centers worldwide in a clinical trial utilizing this technique to treat aortic stenosis. Patients who are identified as high-risk can now undergo a minimally-invasive procedure without the stress of open heart surgery. Minimally-invasive procedures use the fewest and smallest cuts in order to cure or fix the cause of the problem. This leads to faster recovery times for patients and less risk of infection.
Learn more about heart valve surgery.
MedStar Washington Hospital Center is the only place to go for heart surgery. Schedule an appointment or second opinion with one of our top surgeons or call 202-877-DOCS. Or order a free information kit about our cardiac surgery program.
Where to go from here?Previous Topic: Coronary Artery Disease
Inside Heart Valve Disease: Heart Murmurs
Inside Heart Valve Disease: Heart Valve Surgery
Inside Heart Valve Disease: Heart Quiz
Next Topic: Washington Adult Congenital Heart Center (WACH)
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