Could I Have Heart Valve Disease?
Painless echocardiogram can provide answers
If you're finding yourself short of breath or short on endurance lately, you may be one of a growing number of people with heart valve disease, according to Cardiologist Jay Shah, M.D. "We've got to start thinking of heart valve disease the way we think of other progressive diseases, like cancer. When it comes to heart valve disease, catching it early gives patients more options for treatment and a better prognosis," he said.
"When heart valve disease begins, it affects just the valves. However, as it progresses, the overall function and size of the heart suffer, reducing a patient's options for treatment," said Dr. Shah. Diagnosis begins with a painless echocardiogram – a moving picture of the heart's function. "The echocardiogram is a completely non-invasive ultrasound that allows us to see if any valves are leaking or stiff. We can also evaluate the size and strength of the entire heart. All of these changes contribute to the prognosis," said Dr. Shah.
Treatment for heart valve disease can include lifestyle changes (quit smoking, improve diet, increase exercise, reduce blood pressure) and medications to slow the progression of the disease. For those with more severe heart valve disease, more intervention may be necessary, such as heart valve repair or even replacement. "We're able to do a variety of repair procedures using a catheter without the need for more invasive surgery. The earlier we find it, the more likely we can use less invasive solutions," said Dr. Shah.
"We're seeing more and more people with heart valve problems, because we're living longer and because of the rise in other cardiovascular problems which create valve problems. As other risk factors mount, so does the risk for heart valve disease," said Dr. Shah. "Often the diagnosis begins with the patient noticing subtle changes. If you see a difference, see a doctor."
The Heart Valve Center at Porter Regional Hospital's Center for Cardiovascular Medicine offers advanced technology and an experienced multidisciplinary team of physicians to treat cardiac valve disease and complex heart conditions – all in one convenient location close to home.
Patients may be referred to the Center by their primary physician or may request an appointment on their own by calling 219-983-5249.
Join Cardiologist Dr. Jay Shah and Cardiothoracic Surgeon Dr. Walid Khabbaz for a free community wellness presentation "The Subtle Symptoms of Heart Valve Disease" at 6 p.m. on November 11, 2014 at Porter Regional Hospital in Valparaiso.