Marc Sakwa, M.D.
Nearly 11 million Americans have heart valve disease, which is when one or more of the heart’s valves don’t work properly. The heart’s valves keep blood flowing in the correct direction throughout the body. The valves (mitral, tricuspid, pulmonary and aortic) have “leaflets” that open and close when your heart beats. If your valves don’t open or close properly, blood flow can be disrupted, and cause shortness of breath, chest pain, swelling or fatigue.
Some cases of heart valve disease are congenital while others occur later in life. There are several different types of valve problems:
Factors that increase your risk for valve disease:
Many health complications can arise from valve disease, including heart failure, stroke, blood clots, heart rhythm abnormalities and even death.
Valve disease can present itself differently between individuals. Some people have no symptoms while others may experience a sudden onset of symptoms. While symptoms are not always present, valve disease can cause serious damage. Symptoms of valve disease include:
Since everyone’s valve disease is unique to them, there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to treatment. The available choices include valve repair or replacement. When your valve needs repair or replacement, the MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute determines the best option for you by utilizing minimally-invasive-first approaches to treatments.
Minimally invasive treatments spare healthy tissue, reduce scarring and bleeding, lower infection risk, decrease length of hospital stay and accelerate recovery time. With these techniques, surgeons perform procedures through small incisions using specialized surgical instruments.
The minimally invasive approach to aortic and mitral valve repair is through a right mini-thoracotomy. The surgeon creates small incisions in between the ribs to approach the heart from the right side of the chest. The surgeon has direct access to the heart valves and can perform the valve surgery with minimal scarring.
An even less invasive procedure is transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), which allows the aortic valve to be replaced with a new valve while your heart is still beating. The new valve is placed using a catheter that is inserted into the groin – avoiding open-heart surgery.
The MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute is comprised of cardiovascular physicians and surgeons that are renowned leaders in their filed and are on the leading-edge of new and advanced procedures using the most advanced technology.
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