Heart Valve Disease Diagnosis and Treatments

Dr. Frank Halperin, MD, FRCPC, FACC, Cardiologist, discusses the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment options related to heart valve disease.

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Dr. Frank Halperin, MD, FRCPC, FACC, Cardiologist, discusses the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment options related to heart valve disease.
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Featuring Dr. Frank Halperin, MD, FRCPC, FACC, Cardiologist

Duration: 2 minutes, 48 seconds

Heart valves are a very important part of your heart’s anatomy, or structure, and allow the heart to do the job that it was meant to do. The heart actually comes in two parts: a left heart and a right heart.

The right heart’s job is to pump the blood from the body up into the lungs. The left heart will then take the blood from the lungs and pump it out to the body. For the heart to do its job, when it squeezes it needs check valves to cause the blood to flow in the correct direction. So we have for each chamber an inlet valve and an outlet valve.

Heart valves can malfunction in really one of two ways. Firstly they can be stuck in a more closed position. Should that be the case, the flow through the valve will be restricted. It can also be stuck in a more open way, in which case the blood can leak back through the valve.

If these issues should occur, it can result in blood not flowing the way that it should, and can result in issues for the patient. If one has problems with their heart valve, one typically will develop symptoms at some point. These symptoms can include shortness of breath, tightness of pain in the chest, dizziness, or irregular or rapid heart rate.

If you should note these symptoms occurring, this is important that you go see your family physician or cardiologist, and they can look into matters further. If you or your doctor have concerns about your heart valve, there’s a number of ways that this can be tested.

Firstly, your doctor will ask you questions about your symptoms. They will examine you, listening to your heart to see if there’s any heart murmurs, and likely they will proceed to a test called an echocardiogram or cardiac ultrasound. This is a very valuable test that allows us to look at the heart valves and actually measure the flows through the valve and assess if there’s any leakage.

This gives us a very clear understanding of the state of your heart valves, and whether anything further needs to be done. If your doctor finds that you do have an issue with your heart valve, there are a variety of treatments that are available.

For some patients, all we need to do is observe the valve, and this can be done through annual checkups and assessments. For other people we tend to use medications, and that can help relieve symptoms and control the issue.

For some patients, however, we need to do something further, and do something surgical, in other words actually fix the valve. Sometimes we will go in and actually repair the valve, other times we’ll actually take the valve out and replace it with an artificial valve.

What is appropriate for you depends on your particular condition and your particular circumstances, and I strongly encourage you to discuss this further with your cardiologist. If you have concerns about your heart or heart valves, I strongly encourage you to discuss this further with your family doctor or cardiologist. They can provide you with more information that you need to help understand your condition.

Presenter: Dr. Frank Halperin, Cardiologist, Kelowna, BC

Local Practitioners: Cardiologist

This content is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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