Symptoms of heart valve disease such as shortness of breath and dizziness
can make it hard to do what you love. Our specialized cardiology team
offers a comprehensive range of the latest tests and treatments to help
you get your life back.
What is Heart Valve Disease?
Valve disorders can limit the heart’s ability to pump blood to the
body and lead to arrhythmias, heart murmurs, heart failure or other serious
conditions. Because symptoms like shallow breathing and fatigue tend to
slowly worsen over time, people with a valve disorder often mistake those
important warning signs for normal aging.
Valves generally develop one (or both) of two distinct problems:
stenosis (narrowing), in which the heart must work harder to force blood through
a tightened valve, or
regurgitation (leakiness), in which blood may backflow through a leaky valve.
Treatments for Heart Valve Disease
Medicines can help manage heart valve disease, but the only cure is replacing
the diseased valve.
Valvuloplasty – In this procedure, a cardiologist uses a catheter to place a small
balloon inside a constricted heart valve. Inflating the balloon expands
the valve, restoring normal blood flow.
Surgical aortic valve replacement (SAVR) – This traditional open heart surgery procedure is the standard
of care for patients with stenosis or regurgitation who are healthy enough
to have major surgery. A cardiothoracic surgeon and team remove the narrowed
valve and replace it with a mechanical valve (made of metal) or a biological
valve (made of animal or human tissue).
Minimally invasive open heart surgery – Similar to traditional open heart surgery, this procedure is done
through a smaller incision at the breastbone. A medical assessment is
needed to determine if this is an option for you.
Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) – The FDA has approved this minimally invasive procedure as a good
option for patients with severe aortic stenosis whose age or physical
condition disqualify them from having open heart surgery. Most TAVR candidates
are in their 70s or 80s or have another serious medical condition. Somewhat
similar to a stent placed in an artery, the TAVR procedure uses a catheter
to place a sophisticated mechanical valve inside the patient's own
valve. The replacement valve widens the valve opening and takes over the
job of regulating blood flow. TAVR generally involves quicker recovery
than open heart surgery – typically 2 to 4 weeks compared to 6 to 8 weeks.
Foothills Hospital is the only facility in Boulder County providing TAVR.
For more details, visit our
TAVR Program page.
Diagnosing Valve Disease
If you have a heart murmur or irregular heartbeat, your doctor can order
tests to determine whether it’s caused by a heart valve problem.
The first test generally is an echocardiogram, an ultrasound of the heart.
To learn more about our treatments for valve disease or to make an appointment,
Boulder Community Health offers a complete range of cardiology services
at our three Boulder Heart clinics, conveniently located across Boulder