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 - Northwestern Memorial Hospital - Chicago

Center for Heart Valve Disease Overview

Heart valve disease is the third most common cause of heart problems in the U.S. There are four valves in the heart that direct blood flow through the chambers of the heart. Heart valve disease can occur in any of the valves, and often leads to heart failure if left untreated.
In people with heart valve disease, a valve either fails to open properly (stenosis) or fails to close properly, allowing backward flow of blood (regurgitation). Diseases of the mitral or aortic valves (the valves of the left side of the heart) are common, affecting more than five percent of the population. 

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The Center for Heart Valve Disease takes a team approach to treating our patients. Robert O. Bonow, MD and American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology (AHA/ACC) Task Force on the Management of Patients With Valvular Heart Disease. Through this work, he helped update the practice guidelines that assist physicians in preventing, diagnosing and treating heart valve disease.


Dr. McCarthy is a renowned cardiovascular surgeon and an innovator of valve repair techniques. He recently designed a mitral valve prosthetic ring that is used to repair leaking mitral valves and is regarded as one of the best devices available.

Treating many kinds of heart valve disease

At Northwestern Memorial, we treat a wide variety of heart valve conditions, using the least invasive and most advanced techniques available. These include:

Heart valve disease: Repair or replace?

Whenever possible, we try to repair—rather than replace—heart valves. By repairing a heart valve—preserving a patient's own heart valve—blood-thinning (anticoagulation) medications are not required. For patients with advanced disease that requires valve replacement, we use the least-invasive surgical techniques possible.

Emotional and Behavioral Health

Cardiac treatment is most successful when it focuses on the physical, emotional and behavioral health of the patient. Northwestern's Cardiac Behavioral Medicine service was created with the understanding that the mind and body (the heart, in particular) influence each other.

Kim L. Feingold, PhD, director of Cardiac Behavioral Medicine, Gail M. Osterman, PhD, and Paul Goetz, PhD, are clinical cardiac psychologists that specialize in helping patients and their families adjust to a diagnosis and cope with challenges throughout the course of treatment. 


For more information regarding heart valve disease, please contact the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at 1-866-662-8467 or request a first time appointment online.

For more information regarding clinical trials related to heart valve disease, please view the Clinical Trials Unit of Northwestern page, send an email or call 312-926-4000.

Last UpdateMarch 7, 2014