Heart Valve Disease Management

The basic function of the heart is to pump oxygen-rich blood from the lungs to the body. In doing this, the heart should flow in one direction as it courses through the four chambers of the heart. There is a series of four one-way valves that allow the blood to flow in one direction with each heartbeat. Often, a valve may not shut properly and lead to a degree of valve insufficiency. Alternatively, a valve may fail to open properly and obstruct the flow of blood as it goes to the heart. The cardiologist can often diagnose abnormalities in valve function by listening to the heart with a stethoscope. Details of the heart valve disorder are usually determined by use of an echocardiogram. If a patient is determined to have a serious heart valve disorder, the cardiologist can help determine the optimal follow-up and timing of valve repair or replacement.