There are four sets of valves in the heart that may not function properly and may require treatment. A heart valve may be stiff and unable to open enough to allow blood to flow through, or not close properly, allowing blood to leak backward.
Wires (electrodes) attached to adhesive pads on your skin measure electrical impulses from your heart. An ECG can detect enlarged chambers of your heart and abnormal heart rhythms.
Echocardiogram, Both Transthoracic and Esophageal
In the transthoracic test, a device (transducer) is pressed firmly against your skin and aims an ultrasound beam through your chest to your heart, producing moving images of the working of the heart. In the esophageal approach, the transducer is fed down through the esophagus into the stomach to capture the ultrasound images to show how the heart is moving with beats.
Your heart rhythm, blood pressure and breathing may be monitored while you walk on a treadmill so your doctor may evaluate symptoms, determine your exercise capacity, and determine if exercise provokes abnormal heart rhythms. Alternatively, you may be given medication that simulates the effect of exercise on the heart.
You may wear a portable ECG that records your heart's activity continuously over one to two days. This test is often done in people with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
Cardiac Computed Tomography (CT) Exam
Used frequently to evaluate valve disease, cardiac CT gives detailed pictures of the actual shape and size of your heart. In some cases, cardiac MRI, which uses magnetic fields and radio waves to create images of your heart, may be useful.
This procedure uses a catheter threaded through veins into the heart to see inside the heart, measure pressures, and look at blood vessels to help determine therapy options.
A valve may be replaced either as an open-heart procedure or a minimally invasive procedure with the heart by-passed on the heart-lung machine. Certain patients need the bypass approach, open or minimally invasive.
Minimally Invasive Transcatheter Techniques
Several different options are available depending on your specific situation and can be done without by-pass and sometimes without general anesthesia.
- Percutaneous balloon valvuloplasty is a less invasive procedure that can help relieve the symptoms of valve disorders. It involves a small catheter and a balloon that is inflated to stretch the valve opening and allow more blood to flow through it. The balloon is then deflated and guided back through the vessel and removed. Your recovery time is considerably shorter than with traditional surgery.
- TAVR is a minimally invasive alternative for patients who are too high risk for traditional aortic replacement surgery. An artificial valve is compressed and fed through the catheter until it reaches your aortic valve. Once in place, a balloon expands the artificial valve and the catheter is removed. Because of the effectiveness of this approach, research is looking at using it for low-risk patients, as well.
- MitraClip procedure: For patients with mitral valve regurgitation (or a leaky heart valve), this minimally invasive procedure inserts a mechanical clasp using a catheter that is guided to your chest through the femoral vein. The clamp reduces leakage and associated symptoms of regurgitation.
Why Choose UHealth?
The Center for Valvular Heart Disease. Our experts accurately diagnose and treat patients to restore normal valve function.
National experts in transcatheter aortic valve replacement. We have one of the pioneering sites in the U.S. for transcatheter valve replacement and have been doing it longer than any hospital in Florida. Our specialists are involved in clinical trials for new transcatheter valves and new applications for them.
Home to the Elaine and Sydney Sussman Cardiac Catheterization Lab. We provide advanced imaging capabilities and pinpoint accuracy for new and complex procedures such as transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), mitral valve repair, other minimally invasive procedures, such as valvuloplasty, and other coronary and peripheral vascular interventions. We treat patients with various heart rhythm disorders to ablate the abnormal heart tissue responsible for producing the abnormal cardiac rhythm.
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