In 2021, The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) published the Guideline titled Heart valve disease presenting in adults: investigation and management. This guideline covers investigation and management of heart valve disease presenting in adults. It aims to improve quality of life and survival for people with heart valve disease through timely diagnosis and appropriate intervention.

The NICE Guideline for managing heart valve disease are like a map for doctors to help them treat patients with heart valve problems.

You can read the guideline in full here.

Here are the main points from the guideline:

  • Understanding Heart Valve Disease: Your heart has four valves that act like doors, opening and closing to keep blood flowing in the right direction. Sometimes, these valves can become damaged or not work properly.
  • Getting Checked: If you or your doctor suspect you have heart valve disease you’ll get a stethoscope check. If your doctor hears a murmur, you’ll be sent for an echocardiogram, which is like an ultrasound for your heart. This test helps to see how well your heart valves are working.
  • Timeframe: Once heart valve disease is detected, it’s important to get an echocardiogram within 6 weeks. This helps to make sure any issues are identified and treated as soon as possible.
  • Shared Decision Making: Your doctor will discuss the results of your tests with you. Together, you’ll talk about your options and what might be the best treatment for you. This is called shared decision making because you and your doctor work together to make choices about your care.
  • Informed Choices: Your doctor should explain your treatment options clearly, including the risks and benefits of each. This way, you can make informed decisions about your care.
  • Follow-up Care: After treatment, you’ll likely need regular check-ups to make sure everything is going well. Your doctor will keep an eye on your heart health and adjust your treatment if needed.
  • Mental Health Support: Dealing with heart valve disease can be stressful, so it’s important to take care of your mental health too. Your healthcare team should offer you support and resources to help you cope with any anxiety or worries you may have.

Remember, the goal of these guidelines is to ensure that you receive the best possible care for your heart valve disease, tailored to your individual needs and circumstances. Always feel free to ask your doctor any questions you have about your condition and treatment options.

As part of the process of creating the guideline, NICE invited stakeholders to respond to their draft. Over 150 Heart Valve Voice patient advocates gave their voice to our response. You can find out what they said, and how they impacted the final guideline here.