Heart Valve Disease is treatable: an overview of its treatment and management

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Heart valve disease is a condition affecting approximately one million people over the age of 65 in the UK.i It is caused by either wear, disease or damage to one or more of the heart’s valves, affecting the flow of blood through the heart.ii Symptoms include shortness of breath, tiredness, chest pain and dizziness, but are sometimes hard to recognise because they may be seen as a result of the natural aging process, which can make diagnosis difficult.iii It is important that if you have any of the symptoms or are over 65 years, you ask your GP for a quick stethoscope check.

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Although a serious condition, the good news is that heart valve disease is treatable if diagnosed early.iv,v With treatment, people can return to a good quality of life with their friends and family. Treatment for heart valve disease varies according to how severe the disease, your symptoms and your general health.vi But ultimately the effective ways of overcoming the disease are valve repair or replacement. Surgery may be advised if any valve is severely affected, which can significantly improve symptoms and quality of life for many people. Great progress has been made recently in less invasive procedures.

A diseased valve can either be repaired or replaced by a surgical procedure which has been proven to be very successful over many decades. More recently, a less invasive procedure called transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) has become available for those who are considered to be at too high-risk for surgery. Your doctor will be able to advise which is the most appropriate in your case.

Traditionally, open heart surgery is used to repair or replace heart valves for more than 50 years.vii Surgery to repair the valve may involve using a ring to support the damaged valve. Alternatively, the entire valve may be removed and replaced either by a mechanical valve or one made of animal tissue. There are pros and cons of each type of valve or procedure depending on age and lifestyle. You should discuss with your physicians which valve is most appropriate for you. The less invasive procedure, TAVI, allows the replacement aortic valve to be inserted via a catheter usually through a small incision in the groin. The valve is positioned in place either through a balloon-inflation or self-expanding method. Because the replacement valve is placed using minimally invasive techniques, patients usually experience a much more rapid recovery than from surgical valve replacement.

It is important to get regular check-ups by a heart specialist or GP after undergoing treatment, and clarify what symptoms would warrant an additional check-up.viii A GP can also advise on a suitable diet and exercise routine to aid recovery.

“We have seen a lot of innovation and progress in the range of treatments available for patients with heart valve disease in the last few years, both in surgical procedures, but also with the introduction of less invasive techniques for those patients unable to undergo surgery. Patients who are diagnosed early now have a real chance of being able to return to a good quality of life,” comments Professor Philip MacCarthy, Professor of Interventional Cardiology, King’s College Hospital, London.

 

For more information about heart valve disease and the treatments available, please visit www.heartvalvevoice.org.

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

i The changing burden of heart valve disease. British Cardiovascular Society. https://www.bcs.com/pages/news_full.asp?NewsID=19792059 Accessed: August 2016

ii Heart Valve Voice. The condition. Available at: http://www.heartvalvevoice.com/heart-valve-disease/the-condition Last accessed August 2016

iii Lindroos M et al. Prevalence of aortic valve abnormalities in the elderly: an echocardiographic study of a random population sample. J Am Coll Cardiol 1993;21:1220-5

iv Heart Valve Voice. A Heart Valve Voice White Paper. Available at: http://www.heartvalvevoice.com/application/files/6714/6005/9042/White_paper.pdf Last accessed August 2016

v Heart Valve Voice, Treatment. Available at: http://www.heartvalvevoice.com/heart-valve-disease/treatment Last accessed August 2016

vi British Heart Foundation. Heart Valve Disease. Available at: https://www.bhf.org.uk/-/media/files/publications/heart-conditions/his11_0414_heart-valve-disease_a6.pdf. Last accessed August 2016

vii Heart Valve Voice. Your treatment explained. Available at: http://www.heartvalvevoice.com/patients/treatment/your-treatment-explained Last accessed August 2016

viii Heart Valve Voice. What to expect after treatment. Available at: http://www.heartvalvevoice.com/patients/after-care/what-to-expect-after-treatment Last accessed August 2016

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Hello ... I am the Creative Director and Website Editor for Silversurfers and manage all the social media too. I hope you find the features and articles we have shared with you of interest and relevance. Please feel free to comment below and share your thoughts with us ... I hope you enjoy Silversurfers and all that we offer ...

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Iris2u
28th Oct 2016
0
Thanks for voting!
good to know the latest treatments
Iris2u
28th Oct 2016
0
Thanks for voting!
It is good to know the latest treatments for Heart Valve problems, I am having a check up in the Cardiology Department on 4th November 2016 then a Lung check up on 16th December to see if the problem is either or both. I dont want that warfrin stuff as I get flat line veins, my friend has to take it and its been months getting the balance right for her.
AvrilS1
17th Sep 2016
0
Thanks for voting!
I had the aorta valve replaced 5 years ago by open heart surgery. No problems with surgery, although I felt I was sent home too soon, after 5 days. Was discharged from heart clinic after 6 week check. Only problem is taking warfarin for life because I was given a mechanical valve. Had asked for the other valve to be used so I needn't take warfarin forever, but surgeon said decision was up to him. I've never been seen by our warfarin clinic since I was discharged from hospital and it doesn't matter what my INR results are, I am never contacted personally, but have to wait 2 days after blood tests until book returned by post. Feel I've been left to get on with it now.
hazeldonegan
16th Sep 2016
1
Thanks for voting!
I eats diagnosed in April after Echo cardiogram results. Had my MRI in June but was quoted a 35 week wait for my coronary angiogram, thats a week less than 10 months waiting ! It's hard not being able to have a normal routine and the lack of information as to where I am on the list is unsettling ! I need the NHS now and have paid my fair dues over the years, where are they now ?

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