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
- 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
- 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
- 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
Learn more about heart and
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
- 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.
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