The Valve Clinic
The Valve Clinic at The Heart & Vascular Hospital brings together cardiovascular surgeons and cardiologists to offer the most coordinated care for patients with valvular heart disease.
The landscape of cardiology is ever-evolving and today’s patients with valve disorders are typically older and their conditions more medically complex. These dynamics require a comprehensive, flexible approach to care. The Valve Clinic is a collaborative, multidisciplinary program focused on the evaluation and treatment of vascular heart disease like aortic stenosis and mitral regurgitation.
The Valve Clinic is a reflection of our belief that patients with valve disease requires specialized management in all phases of care, and builds on our long tradition of excellence in caring for hearts.
We have organized a group of experienced experts from several specialties to offer the most complete, fully integrated care.
The Valve Clinic at The Heart & Vascular Hospital features:
- New patient evaluations by cardiologists, cardiac surgeons and other specialists as needed – all in one place
- Non-invasive evaluation including cutting edge quantitative and echocardiography techniques
- Minimally invasive surgical options
- Comprehensive perioperative support services from on-site pulmonary/intensive care specialists
- Experienced, onsite cardiac anesthesiology and perfusionist teams
- Immediate availability of all subspecialty and ancillary services for complex patients
The Valve Clinic utilizes leading-edge technology to evaluate valve disease in patients, including 2D/3D echocardiography (transthoracic and transesophageal), cardiac CT, cardiac MRI, nuclear imaging and carotid imaging.
As part of the top-rated Heart & Vascular Hospital, the Valve Clinic offers a full spectrum of surgical services, including:
- Valve repair
- Valve replacement
- Minimally invasive procedures
- High-risk and complex surgery
Caring for patients with valve disease requires the most integrated approach that includes—among others—cardiologists and heart surgeons with special expertise in valve disease, primary care physicians, pulmonologists and anesthesiologists. The team also collaborates with the patient’s primary care physician and referring cardiologist on diagnoses and treatment plan.
New Treatment for Aortic Stenosis
The Valve Clinic at The Heart & Vascular Hospital at Clear Lake Regional Medical Center is now assessing patients for a procedure called Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR). TAVR is appropriate for people who have severe aortic stenosis, or narrowing of the heart valve restricting blood flow to the heart, and who cannot endure the traditional surgical approach of open-heart surgery for valve replacement.
What is Aortic Stenosis?
Severe aortic stenosis is a narrowing of the aortic valve opening that does not allow normal blood flow. It can be caused by a birth defect, rheumatic fever, radiation therapy or it can simply be related to age. In older patients, severe aortic stenonis is often caused by the build-up of calcium on the aortic valve’s leaflets. Over time the leaflets become stiff, reducing their ability to fully open and close. When the leaflets don’t fully open, the heart works harder to push blood through the aortic valve to the rest of the body. Eventually, the heart gets weaker and increases the risk for heart failure because the heart can’t supply enough blood to the body.
What are the Symptoms?
Aortic valve stenosis is a slow process. For many years, even decades, there are no symptoms. Then the valve will likely become so narrow (often one-fourth of its normal size) that you start having problems. As aortic valve stenosis gets worse, you may have symptoms such as:
- Chest pain (angina). You may have a heavy, tight feeling in your chest. Chest pain is often brought on by exercise, when the heart has to work harder.
- Feeling dizzy or faint, often after you have been active.
- Feeling tired and being short of breath when you are active.
- A fast, slow, or uneven heartbeat (arrhythmia).
- A feeling that your heart is pounding, racing, or beating unevenly (palpitations).
If you start to notice any of these symptoms, inform your doctor immediately. If you have symptoms, seek treatment.
Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR)
If a cardiac surgeon determines that you are too sick for open-heart surgery and if medicine is not helping you feel better, TAVR may be an alternative. During the procedure, a wire mesh valve is inserted into the heart via an artery in the leg. This new, less invasive procedure allows your aortic valve to be replaced with a new valve while your heart is still beating. In addition, the hospital stay is typically shorter for patients who have TAVR.