FirstHealth of the Carolinas

Valve Disease

What is Valve Disease?
Valves are tissue flaps in the heart that open and close with each heartbeat regulating the direction and flow of blood through the chambers of the heart.  Damaged valves can be caused by birth-defects, age-related changes, infections and more.  When the valves malfunction they can cause:

Regurgitation - the valve doesn't close properly causing blood to backflow

Stenosis - when the valves thicken or fuse together and don't open properly

Atresia - when the valve has no opening for blood to pass through

Many people with malformed valves go a lifetime with no problems, but if you are experiencing any of the symptoms below your symptoms might be the result of a damaged heart valve.

  • Unusual fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling around the ankles, feet, or abdomen

There are a number of possible treatments including:

  • Lifestyle changes can ease a minor valve problem.
  • Some medications can alleviate symptoms and allow for a delay in surgery
  • Surgery is required for more serious valve problems.
  • FirstHealth Valve Clinic is also currently screening patients for the TAVR* procedure.

* The Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) procedure offers hope for heart patients with inoperable aortic stenosis. The TAVR procedure enables the placement of a balloon expandable aortic heart valve into the body via the catheter-based transfemoral/transapical delivery system. The TAVR procedure is designed to provide an alternative treatment to patients in whom the traditional open-heart surgery can not be performed and patients who are high risk for traditional aortic valve replacement.

All patients are carefully evaluated to see if they are candidates for traditional surgical aortic valve replacement and then TAVR can be considered for treatment. The goal is to provide the best treatment for each individual patient. 

To see if you qualify for the TAVR procedure or other treatment options contact our Valve Clinic Coordinator.

Proper diagnosis of heart valve disease generally involves the following:

  • Physical Exam
  • Chest X-Ray
  • Transthoracic Echocardiography
  • Transesophageal Echocardiography
  • Stress Echocardiography
  • Nuclear Scanning
  • Cardiac Catheterization

Our Team
At the Valve Clinic our expert cardiovascular surgeons, cardiologists and other cardiac care specialists deliver the highest quality of heart care to patients with complex valve disorders.
Meet our team

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