Valvular heart disease is the fifth most common cardiovascular disorder; the first four are hypertension, coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, and stroke.11 Valvular heart disease may develop acutely, but more commonly it is a chronic process, evolving over many years. Severe valvular heart disease eventually leads to heart failure and dysrhythmias unless the course of the disease is interrupted.22 Valvular heart disease affects persons of all ages who have valvular dysfunction due to congenital or acquired causes. Most valve repairs for congenital valvular disorders are performed immediately after birth or during childhood. Common causes of acquired valvular heart disease include degenerative heart disease, rheumatic heart disease, and infective endocarditis. Less common causes include trauma, lupus erythematosus, tumors, syphilis, cancer, and arthritic disease.

Significant advances have been made in the past several decades in the...

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