Heart valve disease is a condition in which one or more heart valves don’t work the way they should. Specifically, individuals with heart valve disease (also referred to as valvular heart disease or VHD) have one or more heart valves that do not close properly. With each heartbeat, heart valves have tissue flaps that open and close to ensure that blood flows in the proper direction through the heart’s four chambers and to the rest of the body. Those with heart valve disease can experience regurgitation, the process of blood leaking back into the heart’s chambers instead of flowing through the heart itself. If left untreated, advanced heart valve disease can cause blood clots, stroke, heart failure, or even death from cardiac arrest.
According to the American Heart Association, about 5 million Americans are diagnosed with heart valve disease each year, which can be both congenital (developed before birth) or acquired during one’s lifetime. Common causes of heart valve disease include: heart attack, high blood pressure, cardiomyopathy (heart muscle disease), coronary artery disease, connective tissue diseases, aortic aneurysms, and even syphilis. Although less common, some types of drugs, radiation, and tumors have been known to cause heart valve disease.
Whether severe or mild, heart valve disease may or may not cause noticeable symptoms. However, when symptoms of heart valve disease occur, they may include:
- Weakness or dizziness (passing out may be a symptom)
- Shortness of breath (or difficulty catching a breath)
- Chest discomfort
- Heart palpitations
- Ankle, feet, or abdominal swelling
- Rapid weight gain
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with heart valve disease, it’s important to know that help is available. One place to turn is Hoag Heart Valve Center in Orange County, California. Led by Pravin Shah, M.D., an internationally recognized cardiologist with extensive valve and echocardiogram expertise, the Heart Valve Center utilizes sophisticated technology and a highly trained physician team to accurately diagnosis and treat heart valve conditions.
With more than 25 years of experience in heart valve surgery, Hoag is a recognized leader in the diagnosis and treatment of all types of valve disease, with superior patient outcomes that rival national figures. Each year, the cardiovascular surgery team at Hoag Heart Valve Center repairs more heart valves than 90 percent of all cardiac programs in the nation.
To learn more about Hoag Heart Valve Center and how they can help you or a loved one with heart valve disease, visit www.hoag.org