Your heart is about the size of your clenched fist and beats about 100,000 times a day. The heart is a two-cycle pump with four valves: tricuspid, pulmonary, mitral, and aortic. The aortic and mitral valves are the most commonly replaced and repaired valves. Your genetics, personal health history and overall health and wellness contribute to the vitality of your heart valves.
What are Common Valve Diseases?
Mitral valve regurgitation is the most common condition related to the mitral valve in the United States. This occurs when the valve does not close properly and allows leaking of blood back into the lungs instead of continuing to the heart, causing a shortness of breath and chest pain.
Aortic Stenosis is the narrowing of the aortic valve which flows blood from the heart ventricle into the aorta and the rest of the body. The narrowing effect prevents the valve from opening properly and forces the heart to work harder. The extra stress on the heart can eventually lead to heart failure.
Who is at Risk?
Risk factors for heart valve disease include high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, smoking, diabetes, and a family history of heart disease.
Heart valves need to be repaired when they are diseased or do not function properly. The decision to repair or replace a valve is unique to each patient. Treatment options should be identified with a focus on the patient’s desired outcome and quality of life.
The MitraClip is a minimally invasive approach to repairing the mitral valve when open chest surgery needs to be avoided. Under general anesthesia, doctors access the mitral valve with a catheter that is guided through a vein in your leg to reach your heart. MitraClip patients generally have shorter recovery times and hospital stays than with open chest surgery. The MitraClip has been used in more than 25,000 patients worldwide with a proven reduction in hospitalizations for heart failure. The technology was pioneered at El Camino Hospital by Dr. Frederick St. Goar.
Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR)
Patients with severe aortic stenosis who are not candidates for open chest surgery may benefit from a transcatheter aortic valve replacement. The CoreValve device is typically inserted via an artery in the leg or upper chest, and then guided through the arteries to the heart. This procedure repairs the valve without removing the damaged valve. El Camino Hospital was one of only a few community hospitals selected to participate in the CoreValve U.S. Risk Trial in 2014.
If you are a patient with a history of valve disease talk to your doctor about your treatment options to see if you may benefit from a minimally invasive approach to valve repair or replacement.
Learn more about El Camino Hospital’s advanced treatment options.