Heart Valve Program Aims to Improve Quality of Life

When your heart functions as it should, it pumps oxygen-rich blood throughout your body.

If one or more of your heart’s valves can’t open and close effectively, poor blood flow may leave you feeling fatigued, short of breath, dizzy or lightheaded. You could also experience ankle, foot or abdominal swelling, or even bouts of chest pain.

Sometimes, however, you don’t feel anything at all. That’s why Columbus Regional Health has launched a new program called Echo Alert to identify patients with valvular heart disease (VHD). The condition affects more than one in eight people age 75 or older, said Dr. Nandu Gourenini, interventional cardiologist, Southern Indiana Heart & Vascular. “Our goal is to identify VHD early so we can improve quality of life for the growing number of patients in this age group.”

Getting You the Right Care

Under the new Echo Alert protocol, every echocardiogram taken at CRH is specifically screened for VHD. If VHD indicators are found, a multidisciplinary team — cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, echo technicians and nurse practitioners — meets, ensures that findings are correct, and then determines the right course of treatment. 

Not every patient with VHD requires surgical intervention; some may only need monitoring, lifestyle changes and/or medication to help protect the valves from further damage. However, if surgical treatment is needed, Dr. Gourenini offers good news. “Risk associated with valve replacement is much lower than it was 10 years ago,” he said. “This is because we can now replace valves using a catheter inserted through a small incision in the groin instead of performing open-heart surgery.” 

Committed to Your Heart Health

Columbus Regional Health will be investing in a state-of-the-art catherization lab in the coming year so that interventional cardiologists, including Dr. Gourenini, can perform life-enhancing valve replacements locally. “I am pleased that Columbus Regional is making this commitment to our community,” he said. “We look forward to performing trans-catheter valve replacements right here and saving our patients the trip to Indianapolis.”

For more on our new heart-valve disease identification program, please contact Southern Indiana Heart & Vascular at 812-379-2020.
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