The Center for Heart Valve Disease is one of six centers within NCH’s Heart and Vascular Center, a nationally recognized program for highly specialized cardiovascular care.

The center treats the most complex of valvular and structural heart disease by marrying clinical expertise with sophisticated diagnostic technologies and state-of-the-art treatments.

NCH Schedule an Appointment

Frequently asked questions


What are heart valves?

The heart’s job is to pump oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. Blood always flows through the body in the same pattern, and along the way, it passes through four valves that are part of the structure of the heart: the tricuspid, pulmonary, mitral and aortic valves. Each valve has cusps (flaps) that open and close with each heartbeat, making sure blood flows in the right direction through your heart's four chambers and to the rest of your body.

What is heart valve disease?

Heart valve disease is any condition that prevents your valves from functioning properly. Birth defects, age-related changes, infections or other conditions can cause one or more of your heart valves to malfunction, and this can make your heart work harder and affect its ability to pump blood.

Heart valves can have two basic problems:

  1. Regurgitation (backflow) occurs if a valve doesn't close tightly enough. Blood leaks back into the chambers rather than flowing forward through the heart or into an artery.
  2. Stenosis occurs if the flaps of a valve thicken, stiffen or fuse together. This prevents the heart valve from fully opening, and as a result, not enough blood flows through the valve.

What causes heart valve disease?

  • Age-related changes
  • Birth defects
  • Advanced high blood pressure and heart failure
  • Atherosclerosis (plaque buildup inside the arteries)
  • Damage and scar tissue due to a heart attack or injury to the heart
  • Rheumatic fever
  • Infective endocarditis (infection in the lining of the heart walls and valves)


What are the signs and symptoms of heart valve disease?

A common sign of heart valve disease is an unusual heartbeat sound called a heart murmur. Your doctor can hear a heart murmur with a stethoscope. However, many people have heart murmurs without having heart valve disease or any other heart problems. Heart valve disease often worsens over time, so signs and symptoms may occur years after a heart murmur is first detected.

Some people with heart valve disease experience these symptoms:

  • Heart murmur/irregular heartbeat
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath with activity or when laying down
  • Swelling of ankles and feet
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting

How is heart valve disease diagnosed?

Accurately diagnosing heart valve disease is vital for proper treatment. NCH uses sophisticated technology that can detect heart valve disease even before symptoms start, including:

  • Chest X-ray
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG)
  • Echocardiogram
  • Exercise/stress test
  • Computerized Tomography (CT)
  • Cardiac MRI
  • Cardiac catheterization/Coronary angiogram

After you’ve been diagnosed with valvular disease, you will be referred to the NCH Valve Clinic where you’ll meet one on one with the members of the team who will discuss treatment options with you, including surgical versus minimally invasive procedures. They will work closely with you throughout the entire process and develop a personalized treatment and recovery plan.


NCH Specialty Module


Conditions treated at the Center for Heart Valve Disease include Aortic valve disease, Bicuspid aortic valve disease and Mitral valve disease.

Learn about these conditions
NCH Specialty Module


The NCH Center for Heart Valve Disease offers leading-edge surgical and minimally invasive techniques.

Learn about our treatments


NCH Resources Module
Maen Nusair, M.D.

Maen Nusair, M.D.

Interventional Cardiologist Medical Director of the Structural Heart Program

View profile
NCH Resources Module
David DeBoer, M.D.

David DeBoer, M.D.

Cardiac Surgeon Chief of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery

View profile
NCH Resources Module
Dana Trawczynski, R.N.

Dana Trawczynski, R.N.

Valve Clinic Coordinator


Call 847-618-2500 to schedule an appointment with an NCH Medical Group cardiologist

See all cardiologists at NCH