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Experience backs early heart valve replacement

Patients with leaky aortic heart valves appear to do better when the valves are replaced before significant symptoms develop, as recommended by the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association guidelines, according to a new study in the Mar. 7, 2006, issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

"In short, we found that those patients that were operated on early enough following the specific criteria of the guidelines (that is, also assuring that they were not given a too early operation), survived for a longer time and had better health than those patients who were referred for operation in later stages of the disease," said Pilar Tornos, M.D., from the Hospital Universitari Vall d'Hebron in Barcelona, Spain.

Patients with aortic regurgitation may feel only mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. While some patients never need to have their aortic valves replaced, other patients may already be developing heart failure or other problems by the time their aortic regurgitation symptoms become severe; so the challenge has been to determine the best time to recommend surgery.

Guidelines from the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association, as well as recommendations from the European Society of Cardiology and other institutions, describe when surgery may be the best option for patients. This study evaluated the results of following such guidelines in clinical practice.

The researchers analyzed data on a total of 170 patients with chronic severe aortic regurgitation, but who did not have coronary artery disease, when they submitted to aortic valve replacement. Patients were divided in two groups depending on the clinical situation at the time of surgery. Group A were 60 patients who were operated on following guidelines advice of earlier surgery, and group B were 110 patients who were operated on late with regard to guidelines recommendations.

Although many of the patients were operat
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Contact: Amy Murphy
amurphy@acc.org
301-581-3476
American College of Cardiology
7-Mar-2006


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