Heart and Vascular Center

​Valve Center

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.

Specific Cardiac Defects

The St. Joseph Hospital Heart and Vascular Center offers the latest therapies and treatments for valve disorders, from drug therapies to the most advanced surgical techniques.

Coronary Artery Disease

Coronary artery disease (CAD) causes a decrease in blood flow to the heart muscle. When fatty substances called plaque are deposited in the inner lining of an artery, the artery is narrowed, restricting or blocking blood flow. The rupture of this plaque can cause a heart attack and subsequent chest pain.

Any one of several diagnostic tests may be used to diagnose and determine the severity of the CAD or heart attack and your current heart health. These diagnostic procedures may include an electrocardiogram, an exercise stress test, or cardiac catheterization.

CAD Treatment

Open-heart surgery is not the only treatment available for coronary artery disease. In fact, it is usually the last course of action after a period of medical treatment. The St. Joseph Hospital Heart Center offers the latest drug regimens as well as a full range of cardiac interventional therapies, including cardiac catheterization, balloon angioplasty, balloon valvuloplasty, laser, cutting balloon, and stents.

Coronary artery bypass, sometimes referred to as CABG or "cabbage," is an operation performed to improve the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart. This procedure creates a new path through which blood can flow freely. During surgery, blood is rerouted around clogged arteries using blood vessels taken from other parts of the body such as the leg and chest wall.

Valvular Disease

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.

Several diagnostic tests may be used to diagnose and determine the severity of the valve disease and your current heart health, including an echocardiogram, Doppler ultrasound, or a transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE).

Valvular disease treatment

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. Other treatments include balloon valvuloplasty, which may be used to relieve stenosis (narrowing) of the heart valves.

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, the damaged valve is removed and replaced with a new valve that is implanted in its place.

Congenital Heart Disease

Congenital heart disease, the most common birth defect, is a heart defect that occurs during fetal development in the uterus. About one out of every 100 babies is born with a congenital heart defect, which can involve one or more heart structures or blood vessels around the heart. In most cases, the cause of the defect is unknown, but research has suggested that congenital heart disease may be the result of a genetic abnormality or exposure of the developing fetus to certain medications, toxic substances, alcohol or drugs.

Congenital heart disease treatment

The FDA-approved Melody® Transcatheter Pulmonary Valve (TPV) is a treatment that uses a catheter to insert a specially-designed heart valve into a vein in the leg that is guided to the heart. The heart valve is attached to a wire frame that expands with the help of a balloon to push the blocked pulmonary conduit open.

St. Joseph Hospital became one of the nation's first hospitals to place the Melody ® TPV in four patients who were born with a congenital heart defect. Utilizing Orange County's first hybrid OR, which incorporates a robotic 3D imaging system, Farhouch Berdjis, MD, and Richard Gates, MD, successfully implanted the Melody® TPV in two pediatric patients ages 11 and 12, and two young adults ages, 18 and 21. All four patients were discharged the next day.

Individuals born with a complex congenital heart defect often face a lifetime of surgery and hospitalizations. The Melody® TPV provides an option for many patients and can significantly reduce re-operation rate. The Melody® TPV reduces hospital stays and speeds up recovery times. Most patients are able to return to normal activities within a week.

For information on the St. Joseph Hospital Adult Congenital Heart Program click here. For more information on the Melody® TVP, click here.