Diagnosis of valvular heart disease

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The tests performed to diagnose valvulopathy are:

Monitor with an echocardiogram

Echocardiogram. This technique is based on the emission of ultrasounds. The test does not emit radiation, and can be performed as many times as necessary. It shows which valves are affected and how severe the problem is. It also provides information on the size and functionality of the various cardiac cavities, which is a determining factor in deciding the most appropriate treatment. It may also indicate the presence of pulmonary hypertension. The heart and the pulmonary circulation are closely related and, if one is affected, in the long term this usually affects the other. This is important information when deciding on the best treatment option.

Electrocardiogram monitor

Electrocardiogram. This enables doctors to confirm that the heart rate is normal. 

Cardiac catheterisation

Catheterisation. If these tests indicate that the patient may benefit from an operation, cardiac catheterisation is performed prior to surgery to see if the coronary arteries are also affected. This procedure is performed on all patients over 40-45 years of age, depending on the presence or absence of cardiovascular risk factors: mainly a history of smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. This test involves injecting contrast dye into the coronary artery through a catheter inserted into an artery in the arm, or using a CT scan. The doctors decide which technique to use according to the probability of the patient having coronary problems. If this probability is high, the test is performed invasively, if not, it is done through a CT scan. Ultimately, if the doctors suspect that the patient has an associated pathology of the aortic artery, which is common in patients with aortic valve pathology, a chest CT scan is also undertaken to rule this out.

Substantiated information by:

Ander Regueiro Cueva
Bárbara Vidal Hagemeijer
Cesar Bernadó
Daniel Pereda

Published: 23 January 2020
Updated: 23 January 2020

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