Could you be at risk for aortic valve disease

Cardiologists team-up at Monument Health to fight heart disease
The late evening news on KEVN Black Hills Fox Monday-Friday
Published: Mar. 24, 2023 at 5:18 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America, and physicians at the Monument Health Heart and Vascular Institute say early detection is the key to fighting this silent killer. It’s becoming an increasing problem in the United States, aortic heart disease, afflicting nearly 20% of older Americans.

Dr. Charan Mungara, Cardiothoracic Surgeon, at Monument Health says, “20 to 25% of patients over 65 develop stenosis. This is called degenerative calcification. Even though you have lived a very healthy life you are at risk after 65 to develop stenosis but the modifiable risk factors are in our control.”

According to the American College of Cardiology, valvular heart disease is rising in the United States with more than five million people suffering from aortic stenosis alone.

Dr. Joseph Tuma, an Interventional Cardiologist at Monument Health, describes what happens to your heart when you have been diagnosed with this type of heart disease.

“The aortic valve that sits behind the main pumping chamber and the aorta the big artery that comes off the heart and the mitral valve which is between the top and bottom chambers of the heart so they can either be narrowed or stenotic or they can leak so they don’t close properly so the blood goes backward,” Tuma explained.

One of the most common and severe valve diseases is aortic valve disease. The American Heart Association says as we age our heart valves can accumulate calcium deposits, causing a blockage of blood. The valves in your heart’s four chambers open and close in exact precision on average 100,000 times a day for a healthy heart, but Tuma adds that many people who suffer from heart disease may not recognize the symptoms.

“We do see asymptomatic patients and we have to weigh the risks of surgical or catheter-based interventions against the disease process itself because there is an inherent risk with these patients even though they are asymptomatic something called sudden cardiac death which can happen when patients have severe stenotic valves,” says Mungara.

Tuma reminds us what to look out for, “Shortness of breath with exertion, symptoms of heart failure legs are swelling up, you can’t breath laying flat, dizzy spells or passing out, chest pains.

With several treatment options available, Monument Health’s team approach helps people navigate their patient plan with efficiency.

Mungara says, “we have a structural heart clinic where we offer comprehensive evaluations from both cardiology standpoint from a structural standpoint as well as surgical standpoint where we are able to help these patients in a multi-disciplinary fashion.”

Adopting healthy lifestyle habits, says Tuma, can save your heart in the long run. “Low cholesterol, limited carbohydrates, limited saturated fats, exercise is a big one, starting exercise early in life and continuing on,” the doctor said.