Diagnosing A Heart Valve Disorder & Heart Valve Disease
Some heart valve defects can be identified by simply listening to your heart sounds with a stethoscope. This is usually the first step in diagnosing heart valve disease. A characteristic known as heart murmur (abnormal sounds in the heart due to turbulent blood flow) can often indicate valve regurgitation.
However, to further define the type of valve disease and extent of the valve damage, physicians may use any of the following diagnostic procedures suggested by The Cleveland Clinic.
Tests For Identifying Heart Valve Disease
- Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) - a test that records the electrical activity of the heart, shows abnormal rhythms (arrhythmias or dysrhythmias), and detects heart muscle damage.
- Chest x-ray - a diagnostic test which uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film. An x-ray can show enlargement in any area of the heart.
- Cardiac catheterization - this diagnostic procedure involves a tiny, hollow tube (catheter) being inserted into an artery leading to the heart in order to image the heart and blood vessels. This procedure is helpful in determining the type and extent of valve blockage.
- Transesophageal echo (TEE) - TEE is a diagnostic test that is used to measure the sound waves that bounce off the heart, creating a graphic image of the movement of the heart structures.
- Radionuclide scans - these scans use radioactive imaging to view blood flow, internal organ structure, and organ function.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) - a diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of large magnets, radiofrequencies, and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body.
Adam Pick is a patient, author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery and the founder of HeartValveSurgery.com.