Heart and Vascular Center

Valvular Disease

The heart's valves open and close to keep blood flowing properly, with oxygenated blood flowing into the heart and blood needing oxygen flowing out. Valve disease occurs when the heart's valves do not function properly. Some disorders cause stenosis (narrowing) or obstruction of the valves, which forces the heart to work harder to pump blood to the body. Other valve disorders are characterized by the inability of valves to close completely. These regurgitation or insufficiency disorders allow blood to leak back through the valve into the heart.

St. Joseph Hospital offers the latest therapies and treatments for valve disorders, from drug therapies to the most advanced open-heart surgery techniques.

Valve Disorder Diagnostic Services

After you have described your symptoms and your physician has performed a physical examination, any one of several diagnostic tests may be used to diagnose and determine the severity of the valve disease and your current heart health. These diagnostic procedures may include an echocardiogram, Doppler ultrasound, or a transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE).

The registered cardiac diagnostic sonographers (RDCS) and technicians who administer our TEEs, ultrasounds, and echocardiograms are specially trained to work with both adult and pediatric patients.


A number of medical treatments can be used to manage valve disorders, depending on the severity of illness. Medications that improve the heart's ability to pump, regulate its rhythm, or reduce its workload are often helpful in alleviating symptoms. Antibiotics are also necessary before any procedure that may cause bleeding in order to reduce the chance for infective endocarditis, an infection that affects the valves. The experienced cardiologists at St. Joseph Hospital work with patients to identify the medications that would be most effective in managing symptoms and protecting the heart valves from further damage.

Other treatments include invasive procedures such as balloon valvuloplasty, which may be used to relieve stenosis, or narrowing, of the heart valves.

The St. Joseph Hospital's Cardiac Catheterization Lab has historically been referred to as one of the best in the region and is staffed by experienced and highly skilled physicians. Invasive cardiac services are provided in four procedure suites. Both pediatric and adult patients are served.

Valve Disease Cardiovascular Surgery

Valve surgery is performed to repair valve defects or replace malfunctioning valves in order to restore proper blood flow through the heart. In valve repair surgery, a surgeon may trim the valve, sew it to make it tighter, or patch the defect, depending on the deformity. During valve replacement, a damaged valve is removed and an animal, human or mechanical valve is implanted in its place.

The adult and pediatric cardiac surgery programs at St. Joseph Hospital offer a complete range of valve repair and replacement procedures.