Heart Valve Disease

Like any heart problem, heart valve disease can seem overwhelming. Proper care is key to a strong recovery. Wake Forest Baptist Health’s heart surgeons perform hundreds of valve repair and replacement surgeries each year. The Society of Thoracic Surgeons have awarded our cardiac surgeons their highest quality ranking. 

What is Heart Valve Disease? 

Heart valve disease happens when the heart valves don’t work the way they should because of damage or a defect. When your heart valves fail to open or close properly: 

  • The heart loses its ability to pump effectively. 
  • Your body doesn’t receive the oxygen-rich blood it needs. 

The tissue-thin valves between the chambers in your heart constantly open and close to regulate the flow of blood from chamber to chamber. Problems with the heart valves make the heart work harder. Over time, this extra work may weaken your heart’s pumping action and enlarge your heart, increasing your risk of developing heart failure. 

Heart valve problems include: 

  • Stenosis, when a valve isn't able to open properly 
  • Regurgitation, when a valve doesn't close properly and can leak 

Symptoms of Heart Valve Disease 

Many people with valve disease have no symptoms. The most common sign is an unusual heart sound called a heart murmur, but many people have heart murmurs without having valve problems. Other symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing 
  • Swollen ankles, feet or abdomen 
  • Wheezing or coughing  
  • Fatigue or weakness 
  • Dizziness or fainting  
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat  
  • Chest pain or pressure 

Diagnosing Heart Valve Disease 

We use several advanced diagnostic tools to help determine whether you have heart valve disease. In a physical exam, your physician will listen to your heart to see if you a heart murmur. Your physician may order tests including:  

Learn more about heart and vascular diagnosis at Wake Forest. 

Treating Heart Valve Disease at Wake Forest Baptist 

If valve damage is mild, your doctor may decide to take a “wait and see” approach and/or treat your symptoms with medication. If damage to the valve is more severe, surgery to repair or replace the valve may be needed. 

Your doctor may recommend one of our structural heart disease treatments, which include:

  • PFO (Patent Foramen Ovale) closure 
  • ASD (atrial septal defect) closure 
  • VSD (ventricular septal defect) closure 
  • TAVR (transcatheter aortic valve replacement) 
  • Mitral valvular plasty 

Learn more about our structural heart disease treatments

Below, Dr. Sanjay Gandhi, a cardiologist at Wake Forest Baptist Health, explains how the transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) procedure repairs an older, damaged valve in the heart without removing it. 

Contact Us 

Request an appointment online. Or, for more information, please call: 

336-716-WAKE or 

888-716-WAKE (toll-free) 

 

Quick Reference

Heart & Vascular Center
New Patients

Local 336-716-WAKE
Toll-free 888-716-WAKE

Returning Patients

Vascular 336-716-4151
Heart 336-716-6674

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Last Updated: 06-25-2014
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Disclaimer: The information on this website is for general informational purposes only and SHOULD NOT be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice, evaluation or care from your physician or other qualified health care provider.