Valvular heart disease affects millions of Americans, but it impacts each person differently. Valve disease may occur in any of the four heart valves. A valve may be too narrow or too hardened to open fully. Or a valve may not close completely, resulting in "leakage."
Just as there are different types of valve disease, there are different approaches to treatment.
At the Heart Valve Clinic, located inside the University Tower, SLUCare cardiac surgeon Dr. Richard Lee and SLUCare interventional cardiologist Dr. Michael Lim take a team approach to care. Together, the doctors evaluate, diagnose and offer treatment recommendations for patients.
"Dr. Lim and I bring different perspectives to the treatment of valve disease, so we can offer patients options," says Dr. Lee. "Valve replacement surgery may be right for one patient, while valve repair may work for another. For some, medication and lifestyle changes may be all that's needed. We include the patient in all treatment decisions and give them a voice in their care."
Some patients with valve disease experience other heart problems, such as atrial fibrillation (also known as AF or AFib). At the Heart Valve Clinic, doctors are able to treat valve disease and AFib simultaneously, which produces better outcomes for some patients. In fact, Dr. Lee helped develop a technique called hybrid maze — a procedure for AFib patients that merges the benefits of traditional maze surgery with minimally invasive instrumentation, allowing for faster recovery with less postoperative pain. The procedure reduces the risk of stroke, reduces reliance on anticoagulants, and avoids risks associated with open-heart surgery.
The Heart Valve Clinic coordinates patient care in other ways, as well, including:
For an appointment at the Heart Valve Clinic, call 314-977-4440.