Health experts warn about heart valve disease — what it is and how to treat it


In this Monday, March 11, 2013 photo, Atlanta cardiologist Dr. Spencer King holds a model of a diseased heart valve with a replacement placed inside during a demonstration at an American College of Cardiology conference in San Francisco. Millions of people have valve problems – each year, more than 100,000 people in the United States alone have surgery for them. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — During American Heart Month, health experts want the community to be aware of heart valve disease, how to detect it and ways to treat it.

Heart valve disease occurs when one or more valves in the heart work improperly.

According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms include:

  • Abnormal sound (heart murmur) when a doctor is listening to the heart beating with a stethoscope
  • Chest pain
  • Abdominal swelling (more common with advanced tricuspid regurgitation)
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath, particularly when you have been very active or when you lie down
  • Swelling of your ankles and feet
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Irregular heartbeat

Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) is a “heart procedure to replace narrowed aortic valve that fails to open properly,” according to the Mayo Clinic. TAVR is an option for those who are at a high risk of complications during open-heart surgery and can be used to treat heart valve disease.

Melissa Nicholson said she was experiencing chest pains when she decided to undergo TAVR at The Hospitals of Providence Sierra Campus, which ultimately saved her life.

She said the surgery gave her a new chance at life.

“It’s really about living because you can’t live when you have great pain like that and difficulty breathing, so it’s made all the difference,” said Nicholson.

Heart valve coordinators said the risk for heart disease increases as people age, but the TAVR procedure drastically changes patients’ lifestyles for the better.

To learn more about TAVR, consult with your doctor for more information.

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