It depends on the disease but not everyone with heart disease needs surgery. For instance, mitral valve repair surgery is generally recommended for moderate to severe or severe mitral regurgitation. Lesser degrees of mitral regurgitation may not require surgery at this point. I believe strongly that a visit to an experienced mitral valve repair surgeon is an important thing for patients with mitral disease, even if surgery is not required. That is because many patients with clear indications for surgery are not referred today for a variety of reasons. The patient should make an informed decision on the risks, benefits, and alternatives to the various treatment options. Second opinions are also a good thing because they empower the patient. A good resource for patients is the American Heart Association website: www.heart.org and the American Heart Association Guidelines for the treatment of valve disease: AHA Valve Treatment Guidelines. The treatment guidelines can be confusing for non-medical folks but your cardiologist or surgeon can walk you through the appropriate algorithm for your condition..

Category: Questions About Preoperative Issues
T. Sloane Guy, MD

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