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Curr Cardiol Rep. 2005 Mar;7(2):87-93.

Asymptomatic valvular disease: who benefits from surgery?

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Division of Cardiology, Room S3-860, UMass Memorial Medical Center, 55 Lake Ave North, Worcester, MA 01655, USA.


Routine physical examination and noninvasive imaging frequently lead to the diagnosis of valvular heart disease in asymptomatic patients. The decision to proceed to surgical repair or replacement is based on an informed evaluation of the risks of surgery versus those encountered with a nonoperative course. In determining whether symptoms are present, stress testing may be helpful, as many patients with significant valvular lesions have a tendency to limit their daily physical exertion to levels that do not provoke symptoms. The two most feared consequences of conservative management, sudden death and permanent myocardial damage, are rare in asymptomatic patients with severe aortic stenosis or regurgitation. Surgery for asymptomatic aortic stenosis is performed only for certain high-risk subsets of patients, including those with left ventricular dysfunction, ventricular arrhythmia, and critically small valves. Asymptomatic patients with aortic regurgitation and mitral regurgitation should undergo surgery if they have systolic dysfunction or marked ventricular enlargement.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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