Each year in the United States, more than five million people are diagnosed with valve disease, a condition that occurs when one or more of the heart’s valves don’t work correctly. Because multiple problems can affect your heart valves, reaching the right diagnosis is essential to select the proper treatment. Dr. Castello has a long-standing interest in the diagnosis and management of valvular disease. He is the author of multiple scientific publications relating to valvular disease and is a world-renowned lecturer in the area. He is heavily involved in the structural heart team at Memorial Hospital, including newer technologies such as TAVR and MitraClip®. To learn more, call or book an appointment online today.
The heart contains four valves that ensure that blood can flow in the correct direction, thus preventing backward leakage.
When one or more of these valves don’t function properly, blood flow is disrupted, which can cause a variety of symptoms.
Two main problems occur with valve disease:
When valves don’t close completely, they allow blood to leak backward into your heart. This results in volume overload to the heart that causes the heart to enlarge and to weaken.
Occurs when valves become narrow and hard, thus reducing blood flow through them. A narrow valve imposes an excessive pressure load to the heart, which can cause a variety of symptoms depending on which valve is affected.
It is possible to have valve disease for years without experiencing any noticeable symptoms. For many people, being diagnosed with a heart murmur during a routine physical is one of the first signs that they have a valve problem.
As valve disease progresses, it often causes symptoms that are similar to those caused by heart failure, such as:
Valve disease increases your chances of developing blood clots and heart rhythm abnormalities without treatment. Ultimately, it can lead to heart failure, stroke, and death.
If you have valve disease, your treatment depends on the underlying cause of the problem, the severity of your condition, and how quickly the disease seems to be progressing.
The first step in valve disease management is to obtain an accurate diagnosis. Valvular diseases are diagnosed using echocardiography, an ultrasound study of the heart that is performed in the office by a certified cardiac sonographer.
Sometimes, when more detail is required, a patient may need a transesophageal echocardiogram. This is a semi-invasive study that needs to be performed in a hospital.
Dr. Castello is a world-renowned authority in the field of echocardiography and has experience in tens of thousands of echocardiographic studies.
To learn more about valve disease, call or book an appointment online today.