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"When is a heart valve surgery consultation needed?"


I am a 38 year old woman with a faulty heart valve that my doctors have always monitored. How can I know if it's finally time to have surgery?


Surgical correction is certainly an option for damaged heart valves, but is usually reserved for when patients are having symptoms that are attributable to the valve. Valve surgery is a major operation that does carry significant risk, so it would not be done if both your cardiologist and a cardiac surgeon were not in agreement. In some cases, such as aortic valve stenosis, the problem is purely a surgical one.

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Patients with aortic stenosis are followed regularly by their cardiologists and with serial echocardiograms, and are referred to surgery when they develop problems related to the valve (such as angina, lightheadedness or heart failure). In some other cases, such as mitral valve regurgitation, symptoms may be controlled to a significant degree with the use of certain medications, delaying the need for valve replacement. You should talk to your cardiologist about the specific faulty valve afflicting you, and what kinds of symptoms you should be watching for.

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