Valve disease most often strikes the mitral valve, which controls blood flow between the left atrium and the left ventricle, or the aortic valve (most prevalent type), which controls blood flow between the left ventricle and the aorta, the large artery that supplies blood to the rest of the body. Valvular heart disease caused about 20,000 deaths in 2003. The total mentioned mortality (i.e., underlying or contributing number of deaths) is about 42,500. There were 95,000 first-listed hospital discharges in 2003 for valvular heart disease. An estimated 95,000 inpatient valve procedures were performed in the United States in 2003.
The guidelines discuss evaluating patients with heart murmurs, preventing and treating endocarditis, managing valve disease in pregnancy, and treating patients with concomitant coronary artery disease, as well as more specialized issues regarding specific valve lesions.
"These guidelines highlight major advances in noninvasive testing and surgery for patients with valvular heart disease," said Robert O. Bonow, M.D., lead author of the joint statement, chief of cardiology at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and the Goldberg Distinguished Professor of Cardiology at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. "There have always been areas of uncertainty and differences of opinion on how to diagnose and treat patients with valvular heart disease. Today we have more much solid data to draw on."
The new guidelines update an earlier set released in 1998. One of the key changes in the 2006 document is a focus on the proper timing of valve surgery. The guidelines in
Contact: Amy Murphy
American College of Cardiology