The human heart has four chambers connected by valves that usually open in only one direction, ensuring the flow of blood through each chamber in the correct direction. Disease processes of the valve(s) can cause blockage (stenosis) or leakage (regurgitation) through the valve. A severely diseased valve can cause abnormal blood flow within the heart or to the rest of the body, causing symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain or discomfort, weakness, dizziness, palpitations, or leg swelling. The most commonly affected valves are located in the left side of the heart, namely the aortic valve and mitral valve. To correct the stenosis or regurgitation of these valves, they can be surgically replaced with bioprosthetic or mechanical valves, or repaired.
Associate Professor Christopher Cao works with a number of experienced Cardiologists to provide an individualized approach to best treat your valve condition. He was the first author in a number of leading international journals on the study of aortic and mitral valve surgery.1-3 For patients who require a valve operation, a heart-lung machine (cardiopulmonary bypass circuit) is used during the operation, and the heart is stopped with a specialized medication called cardioplegia. After the repair or replacement of the valve, the patient typically stays in the specialized coronary intensive care unit for 1 – 2 days, before discharge home after several additional days of recovery on the wards. Further postoperative care such as cardiac rehabilitation can be organized by Associate Professor Cao’s team.