EDUCATIONAL SERIES ON THE SPECIALIST VALVE CLINIC: Challenges in the diagnosis and management of valve disease

in Echo Research and Practice
Correspondence: David Messika-Zeitoun, Email: dmessika-zeitoun@ottawaheart.ca

Valvular heart disease (VHD) is responsible for a major societal and economic burden. Incidence and prevalence of VHD are high and increase as the population ages, creating the next epidemic. In Western countries, the etiology is mostly degenerative or functional disease and strikes an elderly population with multiple comorbidities. Epidemiological studies have shown that VHD is commonly underdiagnosed, leading to patients presenting late in their disease course, an excess risk of mortality and morbidity and a missed opportunity for intervention. Once diagnosed, VHD is often undertreated with patients unduly denied intervention, the only available curative treatment. This gap between current recommendations and clinical practice and the marked under-treatment is at least partially related to poor knowledge of current National and International Societies Guidelines. Development of a Valvular Heart Team involving multidisciplinary valve specialists including clinicians, imaging specialists, interventional cardiologists and surgeons is expected to fill these gaps and to offer an integrated care addressing all issues of patient management from evaluation, risk-assessment, decision-making and performance of state of the art surgical and transcatheter interventions. The Valvular Heart Team will select the right treatment for the right patient, improving cost-effectiveness and ultimately patients’ outcomes.

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    British Society for Echocardiography

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