Published on July 17, 2018

Cardiac Valve Center team keeps blood moving

The heart pumps about 2,000 gallons of blood every day.

heart valvesIt does this through a system of valves.

But sometimes those valves don’t work like they should, triggering symptoms and health problems that need to be treated.

If you have a problem with one of your heart’s valves, the experts at the Mercy Cardiac Valve Center can help.

The Cardiac Valve Center isn’t an actual place. It’s a concept of treatment that puts the patient first.

“The patients are seen in our regular offices,” explains Deon W. Vigilance, MD, a cardiothoracic surgeon at Mercy Fitzgerald and a member of the team that treats valve problems. Other physicians on the team include Richard H. Hunn, MD, and Eddy Mizrahi, MD.

“The only thing that’s different for valve center patients is that they see the cardiologist, the surgeon and our valve coordinator all at the same time,” Dr. Vigilance says.

This team approach means you don’t have to return multiple times to see each specialist.

Valve troubles

Hearts have four valves. Each valve keeps blood flowing through the heart in the proper direction—opening to let blood flow forward, closing to prevent blood from flowing backward.

“In general, one of two things can go wrong with heart valves,” Dr. Vigilance says.

“Either they’re leaking, which is called regurgitation. Or they become blocked, which is called stenosis.”

The most common symptom of valve problems is shortness of breath. Other symptoms can include:

  • Swelling in the legs
  • Chest pain
  • Light-headedness
  • Fainting, or feeling faint
  • Overall fatigue

Valves can either be surgically repaired or replaced. Depending on the specific problem, the surgery can be open—performed with a long incision—or minimally invasive, in which surgery is performed through small incisions.

Heart valve disease can lead to serious problems, such as heart failure. “And that’s one reason why we developed the valve center,” Dr. Vigilance says. “We can try to fix these valve problems earlier, before someone develops heart failure. And we do that as a team.”

Learn more about Mercy’s Cardiac Valve Center.