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Dr. Campbell: Heart valve surgery and Charlie Rose

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) -- This past month, CBS This Morning anchor and North Carolina native Charlie Rose underwent aortic valve replacement.

This was Rose's third valve surgery (and second on his aortic valve).

What happens to cause us to need a valve replacement?

Valves are structures that are located between the chambers in our heart that allow blood to flow in and out during the appropriate time during the cardiac cycle.  The most common heart valves that need replacement are the mitral and aortic valves.  Valves need to be replaced when they become stenotic (or narrowed and stiff) or when they leak badly (called regurgitation).

Some reasons why heart valves become narrow and stiff or leaky include infection (such as rheumatic fever or staph infections) and general aging.  Other causes include congenital heart disease and a weakened heart muscle.

What symptoms do patients have who need a valve replacement?

Obviously the symptoms are specific to the type of valve problem but it is not uncommon to see shortness of breath, chest pain or fainting with aortic valve problems.

What do we know about Rose's condition?

Rose has had a previous aortic valve replacement 15 years ago at Cornell in New York City.  In 2006, he had an emergency Mitral valve replacement in Paris.  This past month, in elective surgery, he had a new aortic valve replacement.

Typically valve replacements involve the implantation of either a tissue (made from either pig, cow or human pericardium) or metal valves.  Metal valves last longer, about 20 years, than tissue valves.

What are the options for fixing problems with heart valves?

Traditionally, open heart surgery is used to repair or replace heart valves. This means that a large incision is made in the chest and the heart stopped for a time so that the surgeon can repair or replace the valve(s). Now, Newer, less invasive techniques have been developed to replace or repair heart valves.

Minimally invasive procedures make smaller incisions, and mean less pain afterward and shorter hospital stays.  The way in which your valve surgery is approached is largely based on the condition of the valve and the skill of the surgeon.  There are new techniques called TAVR that involve replacing the aortic valve with a catheter technique rather than open heart surgery.

To get in touch with Dr. Campbell, you can head to his website, Facebook page or message him on Twitter.

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