A heart valve specialist is a doctor who focuses on diagnosing and treating heart valve diseases. You may wish to consult one if you have questions about your genetic risk factors or need treatment for a heart valve condition.

About 2.5% of people in the United States have heart valve disease, which means they have a condition that prevents one or more of their heart valves from working as expected.

If you have heart valve disease, it’s important to get a proper diagnosis and treatment to help prevent complications such as a heart attack or heart failure. This is why a heart valve specialist can be an important part of your healthcare team.

Heart valve diseases frequently require advanced skills to diagnose and treat. Your doctor may refer you to a heart valve specialist if they suspect you have a condition affecting your heart valves.

A heart valve specialist is a doctor with a significant amount of training in diagnosing and treating conditions that can affect heart valves, such as aortic stenosis and mitral valve prolapse.

Heart valve specialists can help diagnose specific heart valve conditions and determine what types of treatment are most appropriate. They typically have extensive experience using advanced diagnostic tools and treatments for heart valve diseases.

Most hospitals typically have heart valve teams that consist of several different specialists, including general cardiologists, imaging professionals, and cardiothoracic surgeons.

Symptoms of heart valve problems can vary greatly depending on which heart valves are damaged and how they are damaged.

Symptoms of heart valve problems can include:

  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain
  • dizziness
  • fatigue
  • irregular heartbeat (heart is racing or skipping a beat)
  • heart murmur
  • swelling around the eyes, ankles, or abdomen

Newborns with heart valve problems may have:

To determine if you have a heart valve disease, a heart valve specialist will typically ask about your medical history, do a physical exam, and order diagnostic testing.

They may request or perform the following diagnostic procedures:

  • Echocardiogram: The most common test for diagnosing heart valve problems, an echocardiogram can be used to show the size and shape of the heart as well as how blood is flowing through the chambers.
  • Cardiac catheterization: This is an invasive procedure that offers doctors the opportunity to perform a variety of diagnostic tests inside the body, including a coronary angiogram or heart biopsy. Cardiac catheterization allows doctors to see inside blood vessels and get very accurate measurements from different sections of the heart.
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG): An EKG shows the strength and timing of electrical impulses passing through each section of the heart, which allows the specialist to see how fast the heart is beating and if the rhythm is regular.
  • Exercise stress test: Stress testing can reveal how healthy a heart is and how it responds to physical activity, which can be useful when determining a treatment plan.
  • Chest X-ray: An X-ray can show the size and shape of structures in the chest, which can be useful in ruling out other conditions and determining if treatments are working.

A heart valve specialist may be helpful if you:

  • have been diagnosed with a heart valve disease
  • are worried about your genetic risk of developing heart valve disease
  • want a second opinion about a heart valve related issue

A heart valve specialist is the best doctor to consult because they have additional training in the diagnosis and treatment of heart valve conditions.

Because heart valve conditions can lead to serious complications like heart attacks and heart failure, it’s important to talk to a doctor if you believe you have one.

Treatment for heart valve conditions can involve lifestyle changes, medications, and surgery. Even if your heart valve condition does not initially require surgery, it’s important that doctors continue to monitor your heart because it may require surgery in the future.

A heart valve specialist is an expert in heart valve issues. They can be helpful if you have a family history of heart valve disease or a recent diagnosis of a heart valve condition.

It’s important to seek medical assistance if you have symptoms of a heart condition like heart valve disease, as these conditions can lead to serious complications.