Structural Heart & Valve Program
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): TAVR is an FDA-approved procedure that is a good option for patients with
severe aortic stenosis. In August 2019, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
(FDA) significantly expanded the number of patients diagnosed with severe
aortic stenosis who can receive TAVR. The new FDA ruling means that younger
and more active patients, as well as those whose age or physical condition
disqualify them from having open heart surgery, are eligible for TAVR.
The TAVR procedure uses a catheter to place a sophisticated bio-prosthetic
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 significantly quicker recovery than open heart surgery
– typically 2 to 4 days compared to 6 to 8 weeks.
WATCHMAN: This FDA-approved implant effectively reduces stroke risk in people with
atrial fibrillation (AFib) that’s not caused by a heart valve problem.
A one-time, minimally invasive procedure, WATCHMAN is a permanent implant
that closes off the left atrial appendage, where most stroke-causing blood
Foothills Hospital is the only facility in Boulder County providing TAVR
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.
Boulder Community Health offers a complete range of cardiology services
at our three Boulder Heart clinics, conveniently located across Boulder
Longmont. To learn more about our treatments for valve disease or to make an appointment,
please call our program coordinator at 303-415-8898.