Early Detection of Heart Valve Disease is Key to Avoiding Surgery

In recognition of National Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day on Feb.22, MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute hosted a flagship event at MedStar Washington Hospital Center to raise awareness about heart valve disease, which affects thousands of people in the Washington, D.C. area and millions nationwide. 

MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute physicians, along with U.S. Surgeon General Vice Admiral Jerome M. Adams, MD, MPH and WebMD Chief Medical Officer John Whyte, MD, MPH, spoke at the event to discuss the importance of early detection and effective treatments available to repair or replace malfunctioning heart valves, often without open surgery. 

Heart valve disease involves damage to one or more of the heart’s four valves. While some types are not serious, others can lead to major complications, including death. Fortunately, heart valve disease can be successfully treated with valve repair and replacement, often using minimally invasive techniques.

MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute is home to some of the latest technologies available for heart valve procedures. It was one of the earliest sites in the United States to test some of the advancements in the valve procedures.

“MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute has been the site for every major clinical trial, including testing the effectiveness of transcatheter aortic valve replacement, or TAVR, which is a minimally invasive procedure to replace a narrowed heart valve without surgery,” said Stuart F. Seides, MD, physician executive director, MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute. “We have performed more than 2,000 TAVR procedures and because TAVR is less invasive than open-heart surgery, patients recover faster and typically go home in two to three days, compared to a week for surgery.”

“We are the only provider within 50 miles of the greater Washington area that offers all of these latest treatments for heart valve disease. With all of the latest technologies available to us in the numerous trials, we have the capability to sometimes treat patients who are otherwise untreatable,” added Vinod H. Thourani, MD, chairman of Cardiac Surgery, MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. “As always, the earlier in the disease that we start treatment, the more likely it is that patients can avoid surgery and prevent the disease from becoming severe.”

Heart valve disease can be there at birth, or develop from damage later in life from calcification, radiation to the chest, other cardiovascular diseases and conditions, or infection. It is estimated that as many as 11 million Americans have heart valve disease and each year, more than 25,000 people in the U.S. die from the disease.  

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