patient resources

What are the signs and symptoms of heart valve disease?
A heart murmur is an unusual heartbeat sound identified by a physician when he or she listens to the heart with a stethoscope. It is a main sign of valve disease. However, just because a patient may have a heart murmur does not mean that he or she has heart valve disease. If you have a heart murmur, we encourage you to contact the Advanced Cardiac Valve Center for an assessment. Signs and symptoms of valve disease often do not present until patients are middle-aged or older. Additional signs and symptoms of valve disease beyond a murmur include the following:

  • Unusual fatigue (tiredness)
  • Shortness of breath with exercise or when at rest
  • Swelling in your ankles, feet, legs, abdomen and veins in the neck

Other Signs and Symptoms of Heart Valve Disease
Heart valve disease can cause chest pain that may happen only when you exert yourself. You also may notice a fluttering, racing or irregular heartbeat. Some types of heart valve disease, such as aortic or mitral valve stenosis, can cause dizziness or fainting.

What Causes Valve Disease?
The most common causes of valve disease today are most likely linked to one of the following:

  • A weakening of the valve tissue caused by energy changes in the body. It happens most often inelderly patients and commonly affects the mitral valve.
  • A buildup of calcium on the aortic or mitral valves, which causes the valves to thicken.
  • An irregularly shaped aortic valve or a narrowed mitral valve. This is usually a congenital defect, which means that most people who have it were born with it, though it many not manifest symptoms until later in life.
  • An infection in the lining of the heart’s walls and valves (the endocardium). This is called infective endocarditis.
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Heart attack
  • Risk factors

Factors associated with Heart Valve Disease include:

  • Increasing age
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Smoking

repair vs. replacement of a valve

There are two types of mitral valve surgery:

Valve repair

  • Reconstructs your own valve
  • Uses your own tissue

Valve replacement

  • Damaged valve is cut out
  • Replaces your valve with a mechanical or bioprosthetic valve

Valve repair, where your native valve is repaired, is the preferred treatment option for mitral valve disease. The Advanced Cardiac Valve Center surgeons have extensive experience in mitral valve repair and are dedicated to evaluating every patient for mitral valve repair. We have the ability to perform minimally invasive as well as robotic mitral value surgery.

Advantages of Repair

  • Better long-term survival
  • Improved lifestyle
  • Improved heart function and maintain heart structure
  • Better valve durability
  • Lower risk of stroke and infection (endocarditis)
  • Decreased need for blood thinners (anticoagulants)

Steps to cardiac surgery

  1. You will need to be seen in the ACVC valve clinic for evaluation.
  2. You may need to have several clinical tests prior to your cardiac surgery evaluation, including: blood test, EKG, chest X-ray, echocardiogram (echo), cardiac catheterization and CT Scan
  3. Our multidisciplinary health value team to include cardiovascular surgeons, cardiologists, nurse practitioners and nurses will evaluate your test results and current health status to determine the best treatment option for you – surgery or transcatheter procedure.
  4. Once your surgery or procedure is scheduled, you will be asked to come to our office for a complete physical and begin pre-admission testing.

Timeline and expectations for cardiac surgery (transcatheter/robotic procedures have shorter timelines)
Step 1: Preparing for Surgery – You will be evaluated by our multidisciplinary heart valve team to determine if you need cardiac surgery.  You will be provided with information on your specific surgery to review and have the opportunity to ask questions or address any concerns. To help prevent infections, you will be provided with wipes to use the night before surgery. You will also be given education on using an incentive spirometer, a device used to improve lung function as well as meet our co-pilot nurse that will facilitate communication between the heart value team and you and your family throughout your hospital stay.

Step 2: Going to Surgery – On the day of surgery, you will be escorted to the operating room holding area where you will be prepared for surgery. You will then be transferred to the operating room where your surgery will be performed. Your family will be invited to wait in the surgical waiting area. At the end of your surgery, your surgeon will speak with your family.

Step 3: Recovering from Surgery in CVICU – Following surgery, you will be admitted to the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (CVICU). Approximately one hour after you arrive in CVICU, your family will be allowed to visit. Our goal is to have you off the ventilator within 4 hours and sitting up within 8 hours post surgery. The nurses will continually monitor your heart rhythm and determine when you will begin daily physical and respiratory therapy.

Step 4: Moving to CVSU – Generally, within 1-2 days of surgery, you will be transferred to the Cardiovascular Services Unit (CVSU). It is here that we will remove the chest tubes and temporary pacer wires if present. Walking 3 times a day, sitting up for all your meals, and independently taking care of yourself is the focus of the CVSU nurses and therapist.

Step 5: Leaving the Hospital – Our goal is to discharge you from the hospital 3 days post surgery. Most patients are able to go directly home with home health; however, some patients may need to go to a rehabilitation facility for a short period. Prior to discharge our team will provide information on healthy eating, activity restrictions and any new medications.

Step 6: Staying Well at Home – You will be scheduled for a follow-up appointment with one of our cardiac surgery team members at one week and four weeks after your surgery. You will also be asked to enroll in Cardiac Wellness/Rehab. You will work with a dietitian, exercise specialist and nurses to learn how to exercise safely, eat heart healthy, manage cardiac risk factors and control stress.

learn more about our commitment to patient- and family-centered care

The Bon Secours Advanced Cardiac Valve Center is committed to innovation and compassionate patient care. Our approach includes:

Culture of Patient Empowerment
We believe it is our primary function as caregivers to deliver knowledge, resources and skills that enable patients to make informed decisions, thereby empowering them to become active participants in determining their own outcomes.

We are Listeners & Teachers
We support the principles of the participatory medicine movement. Participatory medicine, as defined by the Society for Participatory Medicine, is “a movement in which networked patients shift from being mere passengers to responsible drivers of their health and in which providers encourage and value them as full partners.”

Personalized Care Plan
The Advanced Cardiac Valve Center team will work with you and your primary care physician and cardiologist to create a personalized treatment plan. A dedicated Cardiac Valve Center team member will meet with you and your family for a one-on-one consultation to discuss your options and help you through the process. Patient education, informed decision-making and timely referrals for treatment are all part of our program.

Informed Decision-Making, “Informed Hope”
We seek to ensure that you are aware of both the clinical risks of treatment options as well as the upside and why the clinical intervention will increase your wellness. We call this Informed Hope.

Respect for Your Time
Dignity and respect are our core values at Bon Secours. We seek to ensure timely referrals and on-time appointments.

Holistic Care
Bon Secours is a faith-based organization that is committed to respecting your spiritual, emotional and physical needs.