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Heart Valve Disease Treatment in Meridian

What is Heart Valve Disease?

As your heart beats, four valves open and close, letting blood flow in and out at alternate times. If your heart valves don’t work properly, there can be serious repercussions, including heart failure. When medications can’t control the symptoms of valve disease, surgery to repair or replace a faulty valve may be your best option.

Diagnosing Heart Valve Disease

Each person experiences valve disease symptoms differently. A mild heart valve defect might go unnoticed, while more serious damage could cause chest pain, irregular heartbeats, migraines, fatigue, dizziness, abnormal blood pressure and shortness of breath.

The two main types of malfunction of the heart valves are regurgitation (the valve doesn’t close completely, causing the blood to flow backward) and stenosis (the valve opening becomes narrow or stiff, causing the heart to pump harder). The mitral and aortic valves are most often affected by heart valve disease.

There are several causes for heart valve damage, including:

  • A history of rheumatic fever (which rarely goes untreated in the U.S.)
  • Heart attack
  • Infection
  • Changes in the heart valve structure due to the aging process
  • Congenital birth defect
  • Myxomatous degeneration (an inherited connective tissue disorder that weakens the heart valve tissue)

Your doctor might suspect valve regurgitation or valve stenosis if your heart function sounds abnormal through a stethoscope. Anderson Regional Heart Center offers these tests to diagnose the exact problem:

  • Cardiac catheterization
  • Transesophageal echo (TEE)
  • Radionuclide scans
  • Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

Treating Heart Valve Disease

The doctors at Anderson Regional Heart Center have several options for treating heart valve disease, including:

  • Medications — drugs that control heart rate, fibrillation and blood pressure are often the first line of defense against heart valve disease. Medications such as ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers, blood thinners and vasodilaters cannot repair valve damage, but make the symptoms less bothersome.
  • Heart valve repair — there are several types of heart valve repair surgery, including cutting scarred flaps so they open more easily, remodeling valve tissue that has enlarged or inserting prosthetic rings to help narrow a dilated valve. In many cases, heart valve repair is preferable, because your own tissues are used.
  • Heart valve replacement — when heart valves are severely malformed or destroyed, they may need to be replaced with a new mechanism. Replacement valve mechanisms can be either tissue (biologic) valves from animals or human donation or mechanical valves, which can be metal, plastic or another artificial material.
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