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Our Services / Valvular Heart Disease

Cardiologist, Electrophysiology & Interventional Cardiology located in Ladera Ranch, CA & Irvine, CA

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Valvular Heart Disease

Valvular disease is a common heart condition that affects over 5 million people in the United States each year. Because various underlying problems can lead to heart valve damage, a proper diagnosis is key to determining the right treatment approach. The team at Coastal Cardiology of Orange County in Ladera Ranch and Irvine, California, provides comprehensive care, including surgical repair, for patients with valvular heart disease. Call the nearest office, or schedule an appointment online today.

Valvular Heart Disease Q & A

What is valvular heart disease? 

Four valves — tricuspid, pulmonary, mitral, and aortic — direct the blood flow from your heart and within its chambers. Your aortic valve directs the flow of blood between your heart and your aorta, or the main artery that supplies oxygenated blood to the rest of the vessels in your body. 

The mitral and tricuspid valves keep blood flowing freely and in the right direction between the upper and lower chambers of your heart, and the pulmonary valve helps move deoxygenated blood from your heart to your lungs. 

Valvular heart disease refers to any condition that weakens or damages one or more of these vital valves. When a heart valve doesn’t function normally, it disrupts blood flow and triggers a variety of symptoms and potential complications.  

What are common heart valve problems?

Valvular heart disease can be present at birth (congenital), or it can develop later in life for a variety of reasons, including acute damage caused by an infection and chronic damage caused by heart disease. The two main acquired heart valve problems are:

Aortic stenosis

When the aortic valve becomes narrow and hard (stenotic), it can impede the flow of blood from your heart to your aorta. Eventually, a stiff valve can become partially fused, forcing blood to back up and pool in adjacent chambers. 

Mitral regurgitation

When mitral valves don’t close completely, blood leaks back into your heart. Regurgitation is usually caused by valve prolapse, or dysfunctional valve flaps that bulge backward.  

What are the signs of valvular heart disease? 

Valvular heart disease usually begins silently, with no noticeable symptoms. Often, finding a heart murmur during a routine physical exam is the first indication of a heart valve problem. 

As the disease progresses, it typically causes symptoms that mirror those caused by heart failure, including: 

  • Heart palpitations    
  • Shortness of breath     
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Dizziness or fainting 

Valvular heart disease can also cause pronounced swelling (edema) in your lower extremities.

Why is a timely treatment for valvular heart disease so important?

Left untreated, valvular heart disease elevates your risk of developing blood clots and heart rhythm abnormalities. Ultimately, it can lead to heart failure or trigger a life-threatening heart attack or stroke. 

When diagnosing valve disease, the team at Coastal Cardiology of Orange County must determine the nature and severity of the problem and assess how quickly it seems to be progressing. Your individually tailored treatment plan aims to:

  • Slow or stop disease progression
  • Protect your valves from further damage
  • Treat and resolve existing infections 
  • Control blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Prevent arrhythmia development 

If valve damage is severe or appears to be progressing quickly, they may need to perform a specialized surgical procedure to repair the valve or replace it. 

Call the nearest Coastal Cardiology of Orange County office to learn more or book an appointment online today.