What happens in a Heart Valve Clinic

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Hello! My name is Helen and my colleague’s name is Emma. We run a specialised nurse-led clinic within the cardiothoracic department of Sheffield Northern General Hospital, delivering a high quality patient-centred service to those who have undergone heart valve surgery.

The patients we see include those who have had a replacement valve with either a mechanical or animal tissue valve and those who have had repair of a damaged valve. All patients who undergo a heart valve operation will be seen at 6-8 weeks in the follow up surgical clinic. If all is well they are given a six-month appointment for our Heart Valve Clinic.

On arrival at the Heart Valve Clinic the patient will have an echocardiogram (ECHO) which is a detailed examination of the new valve that has been replaced or repaired. They will also have an electrocardiogram (ECG) which records the electrical activity of the heart to ensure the heart is not in an abnormal rhythm. The patient will then be reviewed by us, together with the results of the above tests. Their blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen levels, height and weight will be recorded and we will take a full history which includes a current cardiac medication review to ensure the patient is on the right drugs and to stop any that are no longer needed. This will be followed by a physical examination; if required routine blood tests and chest x-rays will be done. At this time, we also offer advice on living with a replaced or repaired valve e.g. endocarditis, warning signs of valve dysfunction, secondary prevention advice e.g. weight reduction, smoking cessation and give psychological and emotional support if needed.

If there are any acute problems that need review by a doctor on the day, we inform the senior specialist registrar who will see the patient accordingly. We enter all patients’ data from clinic onto a dedicated database.

All our valve patients are discussed with a consultant cardiothoracic surgeon and a clinic letter is generated for the patients’ GP with findings and actions. The Heart Valve Clinic means any early problems with the valve will be detected quicker and therefore any necessary treatment is administered before complications set in. We feel that we offer a holistic service for patients who have undergone heart valve surgery and as a consequence this improves their care and outcomes.

You can find out more information about heart valve disease on the Heart Valve Voice website which I support in various projects.

Follow us on Twitter @heartvalvevoice and like our Facebook page.

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