Cardiac Valve Disease

The Cardiac Valve Program at UConn’s Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center diagnoses and treats all forms of heart valve disease. Our team includes cardiologists, cardiac imaging specialists, heart surgeons, nurses, and other specially trained support staff. Together, we combine a full range of advanced diagnostic techniques with the latest available treatments including either valve repair or replacement to provide our patients with advanced and thorough care. As the only university hospital in central Connecticut, our patients receive the advantages of the latest research and innovations for cardiac valve disease.

Some of the most common cardiac valve diseases are:

  • Aortic Regurgitation - Aortic regurgitation is a condition that occurs when the aortic valve doesn’t close correctly. This allows blood to leak back into the heart instead of being pumped out, and it interferes with the heart’s ability to circulate blood throughout your body.
  • Aortic Stenosis - Aortic stenosis is a valve disease that refers to the narrowing of the aortic valve. Aortic stenosis is commonly a congenital heart defect, but it can also be caused by certain diseases or infections. Due to the narrowing of the valve, it is unable to open fully and prevents the blood from flowing out of the heart correctly.
  • Mitral Regurgitation - Mitral regurgitation occurs when the mitral valve doesn’t close correctly. The blood can then flow backwards through the valve instead of continuing its normal path through the heart to the rest of the body.


The symptoms of heart valve disease commonly include one or more of the following:

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Fainting
  • Fatigue
  • Heart murmur
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling of the feet or ankles

If you experience these symptoms, and they are persistent and progressive, make an appointment with your doctor.


If your doctor suspects that you have heart valve disease, they will perform a physical exam and discuss your medical history. The doctor will then likely order diagnostic tests to see inside your heart. These tests may include:

  • Cardiac Catheterization - a test that uses dye and x-ray to create a detailed image of your heart
  • Echocardiography (2D or 3D) - a test that uses sound waves to create an image of your heart in motion
  • ECG (Electrocardiogram) - a test that uses electrodes to measure electrical impulses from the heart
  • CMR (Cardiac MRI) - a test that uses magnets and radio waves to create a detailed image of your heart
  • Stress Test - a test that monitors how the heart functions during exercise


Treatment of cardiac valve disease will vary depending on the severity of the disease. Your doctor may want to monitor your condition at first. If your condition worsens or is severe when diagnosed, you may require surgery to repair or replace the valve. You and your cardiologist at the Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center will discuss which option is best for you and your unique health history and condition.

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