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Valvular Heart Disease (Heart Valve Disorders)

Lee Health: Experienced Cardiology Specialists Treating Your Heart Valve Disorders

Lee Health Cardiologists have the experience and knowledge you need to help you live your best heart-healthy life. Heart valve disorders can damage your heart, so we are here to help you treat your heart valve issues to help you have a better quality of life.

  • At the first sign of a heart attack, every second counts. Our emergency cardiac care team is available 24 hours a day at our four adult hospitals.

What is a heart valve?

The heart has four chambers, two upper chambers (atria) and two lower chambers (ventricles) and each of these as a corresponding heart valve to help blood flow correctly. This valve or flap sometimes referred to as a leaflet act as one-way inlets for blood coming into your ventricle and a one-way outlet for blood leaving your ventricle.

The four valves in your heart are:

  • The tricuspid valve regulates blood flow between the right atrium and right ventricle.
  • The pulmonary valve controls blood flow from the right ventricle into the pulmonary arteries, which carry blood to your lungs to pick up oxygen.
  • The mitral valve lets oxygen-rich blood from your lungs pass from the left atrium into the left ventricle.
  • The aortic valve opens the way for oxygen-rich blood to pass from the left ventricle into the aorta, your body’s largest artery.

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What is a heart Valve Disorder?

When something is wrong with one of your heart valves, this means you have a heart valve disorder. Some people with heart valve disease are born with it, while others develop heart valve disease later in life.

Heart valves can have several problems such as:

  • Regurgitation-This occurs when a valve does not close completely, so blood leaks through in the wrong direction.
  • Stenosis- This happens when a valve does not open wide enough to let sufficient blood pass through.
  • Atresia - This prevents blood flowing from an atria to ventricle or ventricle to your pulmonary artery or aorta because the opening does not develop normally during childhood.

When heart valves fail to open and close correctly, it can lead to serious damage to the heart. This harm can negatively impact the heart's ability to pump blood through your body.

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What are the symptoms of heart valve disease?

While some patients may have serious heart valve disease without symptoms, it is possible to have mild heart valve disease with some of the below symptoms.

Most common symptoms of heart valve disease are:

  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Weakness during regular activities
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Discomfort in the chest
  • Palpitations or feeling that your heart has missed a beat
  • Swelling in ankles, feet or stomach
  • Sudden and unexplained weight gain
  • Headaches

How is heart valve disease treated?

If heart valve disease is suspected, your doctor will first listen to your heart. A heart "murmur" suggests that a valve in your heart is not working correctly.

If this is the case, your doctor will recommend other tests to see if you have heart valve disease. The most commonly performed test to assess valve function is the cardiac ultrasound. These tests may be repeated over time to see how the disease is progressing.

Treatments for heart valve disease differ depending on the severity of the disease.

  • Mild heart valve disease may only require periodic monitoring by your doctor.
  • Moderate heart valve disease can often be treated successfully with medication.
  • Severe heart disease frequently requires surgery.

What is Lee Health's approach to heart valve disease?

The Lee Health Valve Program offers the full range of treatments that are available for heart valve disease, including medication and all surgical techniques.

  • Heart valve repair involves using a patient's own tissue to fix the defective valve. Lee Health provides the most advanced procedures for heart valve repair.
  • Heart valve replacement involves putting in a new mechanism to replace a severely damaged valve. Lee Health offers the very latest options for heart valve replacement, including valves made from natural and artificial materials.
  • HealthPark Medical Center is the first site in Florida—outside of clinical trials—to offer transcatheter aortic valve replacement, or TAVR. A nonsurgical alternative to open-heart surgery, TAVR is a viable option for patients with aortic stenosis in need of valve replacement.
  • We also have the busiest da Vinci robotic surgery program in Southwest Florida, performing 30 percent of cardiac surgeries using this minimally invasive approach.

Who should I contact?

If you have symptoms of heart valve disease contact your doctor. If you do not have a doctor, call Lee Physician Group at 239-481-4111 or our cardiothoracic surgery group 239-343-6341.

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