Valvular heart disease (VHD) encompasses a number of common cardiovascular conditions that account for 10% to 20% of all cardiac surgical procedures in the United States. A better understanding of the natural history coupled with the major advances in diagnostic imaging, interventional cardiology, and surgical approaches have resulted in accurate diagnosis and appropriate selection of patients for therapeutic interventions. A thorough understanding of the various valvular disorders is important to aid in the management of patients with VHD. Appropriate work-up for patients with VHD includes a thorough history for evaluation of causes and symptoms, accurate assessment of the severity of the valvular abnormality by examination, appropriate diagnostic testing, and accurate quantification of the severity of valve dysfunction and therapeutic interventions, if necessary. It is also important to understand the role of the therapeutic interventions vs the natural history of the disease in the assessment of outcomes. Prophylaxis for infective endocarditis is no longer recommended unless the patient has a history of endocarditis or a prosthetic valve.
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