Understanding valvular heart disease

Valvular disease is a type of cardiovascular disease that affects the valves that control blood flow into and out of your heart. The disease occurs when a valve no longer fully opens or closes, so blood does not flow properly through arteries. Sometimes, people are born with a valve defect and may not know it until complications occur later in life. As you age, valves can also become damaged as calcium deposits build up, blocking blood flow. A heart attack or rheumatic fever may also lead to valve damage.

Problems with blood flow

The disease often has no symptoms until it becomes severe. Symptoms may include fatigue, heart palpitations, heart murmur, shortness of breath, chest pain and dizziness. Some of the most common types of valvular disease include:

  • mitral valve prolapse, which occurs when a leaky valve lets blood flow back into your heart
  • aortic valve regurgitation, which occurs when blood flows back into your heart through a leaky aortic valve, releasing blood from your heart to your body’s main blood vessel, the aorta
  • mitral valve stenosis, which occurs when a valve becomes narrow, obstructing blood flow
  • aortic valve stenosis, which occurs when the aortic valve narrows, preventing blood from easily leaving your heart to circulate. This forces your heart to pump harder and eventually weakens it

As with other types of cardiovascular disease, people who smoke or are overweight are more likely to develop valvular disease than fit nonsmokers. Other risk factors include having high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood sugar.

The Heart and Valve Center clinical team at Baptist
Beaumont Hospital

Leading-edge therapies

Physicians with the Heart and Valve Center at Baptist Beaumont Hospital offer the following procedures to treat patients with valvular disease:

  • Surgery. Patients may undergo procedures to repair or replace damaged aortic, mitral or tricuspid valves.
  • Balloon valvuloplasty. This nonsurgical procedure uses a balloon catheter to widen the valve opening. Once the surgeon has widened the valve enough, the balloon catheter is deflated and removed.
  • Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR). This new, minimally invasive procedure may be an option for older patients who are not candidates for open surgery. A surgeon threads a catheter through the patient’s artery, and a collapsible replacement valve is placed inside the old valve. When the device is in position, the surgeon expands it, which pushes the diseased valve out of the way and restores blood flow.

Expert heart care close to home

When patients visit the Heart and Valve Center at Baptist Beaumont Hospital, our clinical team guides them through initial evaluations and follow-up appointments. For more information, visit www.bhset.net/health-services/cardiovascular-services or call (409) 212-TAVR (8287).


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Partners In Education Program with All Saint’s Episcopal School. Hospital employees donate their time and talents to educate students and faculty on healthy lifestyles.