ST. LOUIS – If you are suffering from severe heart valve disease, your physician may recommend heart valve replacement surgery. Valve replacement is the best option for patients whose valves have become irreparable due to disease.

Symptoms of heart valve disease include fainting spells, shortness of breath, chest pain, or heart failure. Your doctor should do a number of tests, like an echocardiogram, MRI, or chest X-ray, and then look at your age, overall health, and any other relevant information to decide if you need a new heart valve.

Mitral valve stenosis, a form of valvular heart disease, is characterized by the narrowing of the opening in the mitral valve, which lies between the left atrium and the left ventricle in the heart. This narrowing can reduce the amount of blood the heart can pump, leaving you tired and often short of breath.

The heart and vascular care team at SSM Health SLU Hospital performs a complete evaluation of all of our patients to determine the best option for treatment. In most cases, the primary treatment for mitral valve stenosis is repair or replacement of the faulty valve.

SSM Health St. Louis University Hospital is the only center in the city that is part of a major national and international trial that is looking at new ways to replace the mitral valve without open-heart surgery.

Dr. Kishore Harjai, an interventional radiologist at SSM Health SLU Hospital, says mitral valve can be repaired “through a small incision on the left side of the chest” rather than open-heart surgery.

Minimally invasive valve replacement is performed through a few two- to three-inch incisions instead of one larger cut. In qualified patients, this can result in reduced scarring of the chest, decreased postoperative bleeding, less pain, a shorter hospital stay, and a faster recovery time. In fact, patients can often go back to their full activity level after three or four weeks. You’re also less likely to need a blood transfusion after surgery.

If you or a family member would like to learn more about Mitral Valve replacement, click here.

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The SSM Health Medical Minute airs Wednesdays on News 11 at 7 p.m. and FOX 2 News at 9 p.m.