Valvular heart disease
If one or more of your heart valves becomes damaged or diseased, it can affect the flow of blood around your heart.
Our cardiology department offers a comprehensive service for the assessment and management of patients with valvular heart disease. People will often be referred for investigation once a ‘murmur’ has been heard or because of a family history of valve problems.
More on what we do
A cardiologist will review your details and decide what assessments and investigations are needed. This might mean you have to attend a clinic appointment. Most people will have a transthoracic echocardiogram (echo) to help us to see the valves in your heart so that we can assess the severity of any valve problem.
An echo is a type of ultrasound scan. A small device called an ultrasound probe is used, which gives off high-frequency sound waves. You can't hear these sound waves, but when they bounce off different parts of the body, they create "echoes" that are picked up by a probe and turned into a moving image. This image is displayed on a monitor while the scan is carried out.
You will be asked to lie on a couch, or sit on a chair. A special gel will be placed the left side of the chest by a specialist cardiac physiologist. The probe is then moved over the skin to get a picture. The examination is usually painless, however you may feel some pressure because sometimes the probe needs to be pressed firmly against your skin to get a clear picture.
In many cases, a murmur will be a mild or innocent finding and nothing further will be needed. Some people might need more detailed investigation. This could include a number of tests, which the medical team will explain. Often, we monitor the valve problem over months or years.
Sometimes medications can be used to help with symptoms. When the disease becomes severe, surgical intervention for a valve replacement or repair is likely to be considered. Our main referral centre for cardiac surgery is Derriford Hospital in Plymouth, with initial clinic consultation often in Exeter. We also refer to other specialist cardiothoracic surgical centres as well.
All of our consultant cardiologists look after patients with valvular heart disease and we have accredited cardiac physiologists who perform the echo scans.
Drs Andrew Ludman, Alan Taylor and Manish Gandhi all perform transoesophageal examinations.
Mr Dalrymple-Hay is our main cardiac surgeon, based in Derriford Hospital with clinics in Exeter.
Where to find us
RD&E Wonford, Barrack Rd, Exeter EX2 5DW
Cardiology Department, Level 2 Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital