Horn Valves

Gretchen Heuring

Valves In Our Hearts

By | 08.05.2014


Just like a trombone, we have valves in our hearts. Our heart valves are operated by our heart's electrical system and their job is to make sure that blood flows freely and in a forward direction with no backward leakage. A heart valve disorder means that the four heart chambers are not beating in an organized manner. The most common symptoms are fatigue and shortness of breath, but often there are no symptoms.


Several types of heart valve disease

The valves in our hearts can be damaged by several different things, causing heart valve disease. There are different kinds of heart valve diseases.


One type involves a narrowed opening that makes the heart work harder. Most often, the valve opening is narrowed because hardening of the arteries has progressed to the heart, thickening and hardening the valve walls. This is called valvular stenosis.


A second type of heart valve disease is caused by a leaky valve. If the valve does not seal, some blood will leak backwards, the heart has to work harder, and less blood may flow through the body. This is valvular insufficiency.


During a severe infection, including dental infections, germs enter the blood stream and attack the heart valves, causing growths and holes and scarring. This is called Endocarditis.


Changes To The Heart

Heart valve diseases cause changes to the heart. The heart muscle can stretch or even tear, the opening in a valve can get larger, or the valve can become calcified. These are serious changes that can be life threatening.


Symptoms of Heart Valve Disease

Shortness of breath. You may have trouble catching your breath and feel better propped up with pillows when you lie down.


Dizziness and generally feeling weak and tired. You just don't feel like following your usual daily routine. Fainting is fairly common.


Palpitations. Strange feelings in your chest like your heart is flopping around. Or you may feel like it is skipping beats. You are noticing the behavior of your heart.


Swelling. Your feet and ankles could swell, or your belly might swell so that you feel bloated.


Rapid weight gain. Gain of two or three pounds in one day.


Treatments for Heart Valve Disease

Currently, there are no medications that can keep a heart valve from leaking or open a valve that has become constricted. There are medications that will make you more comfortable, but a valve replacement is most likely the best solution. Pay attention to your doctors.




woman walking on a dusty road

The heart ages along with the rest of our body but it is capable of adapting itself to age-related changes if we take care.



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Old Truck Valves

Gretchen Heuring

Old Valves

By | 08.06.2014


In the past ten years, there has been a big increase in successful aortic valve (heart valve) replacements among people over the age of 65 and an even larger increase of these successful surgeries for people over 85. This is based on a study of eighty-two million Medicare patients reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association in November of 2013.


By "successful," I mean that these people stayed in the hospital for shorter times and lived longer and healthier after the surgery.


This is astonishing when we consider that less than ten years ago, doctors did not believe surgeries of any kind could be successful for older people. What has caused this big change?


This change is brought about by new operating procedures and advancements in the development of replacement valves for hearts.


Newer, less invasive techniques have been developed, requiring smaller incisions and finer instruments. This means less pain afterwards and a shorter hospital stay. The newest one is caled TAVR (Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement.) With TAVR, a replacement valve is inserted into the old valve using very small openings that leave all the chest bones in place.



In This Video, A Heart Patient

Talks About Choosing A Cardiologist



Ella Traver

Cardiologist Training

By | 08.06.2014


First a cardiologist has to have a college degree. A bachelor's degree is required to get into medical school. Next, she attends medical school for four years followed by at least three years of internal medicine training. Then, to specialize in cardiology, six to eight MORE years of specialized training is required. Specialties could include electrophysiology, echocardiography, pediatric cardiology, and others.


When I add this up, I get a minimum of 17 years (including a bachelor's degree.) That's doggoned impressive.