Valvular Heart Disease
According to the American Heart Association, each year about five million Americans are diagnosed with valvular heart disease, a condition when one or more valves of the heart does not work the way it should.
The heart has four valves associated with the four chambers of the heart. When each of the four chambers of the heart contracts, the associated valve opens to allow blood to go forward. When a heart chamber relaxes to fill up with blood again, the associated valve closes so blood does not flow backwards. The tricuspid and pulmonic valves are in the right side of the heart when sends blood to the rest of the body. In adults, valvular heart disease is more likely to occur in the left heart as the left heart generates much higher pressures than the right.
It is possible for either the aortic or mitral valve on the left to become narrowed (stenotic) or leaky (regurgitant). A stenotic valve leads to an increase in pressure, and a regurgitant valve leads to extra work to make up for the blood that flows backwards. These conditions can cause you to:
- Pass out/faint
- Develop chest pain
- Develop heart failure
- Have irregular heart action
- Have a stroke
The UAMS Valvular Heart Disease service is especially designed to care for patients with this condition. Treatment for the disease varies depending on individual cases. It may only require you to be closely followed by a doctor or may require surgery to repair or replace a valve. After you see one of our valvular heart specialists, a determination will be made for treatment and whether additional imaging studies are needed. If necessary, you may have an evaluation by a cardiac surgeon the same day.
In some cases, you may have already had an evaluation by another cardiologist or surgeon and perhaps a recommendation. If this is the case and you have already had imaging studies, our doctors will not have to repeat the same studies. If imaging studies are necessary for you, these will be performed in our non-invasive laboratory which is the only nationally certified hospital cardiac ultrasound laboratory in the state. Our laboratory sees a large number of patients with valvular heart disease each year and is an expert in providing this service.
Please learn more about Heart Care at UAMS.