Memorial Medical Center has provided comprehensive heart care
since 1973. Recognized as a leader and
innovator in heart and vascular technology,
Memorial performs hundreds of
open heart surgeries each year.
Our programs focus on reducing the incidence
of cardiac and vascular disease.
Memorial Heart and Vascular Services
brings together the area’s top heart and
vascular experts with access to the very
latest technology at a medical facility
that excels in patient-centered care.
At Memorial’s Center for Valvular Heart
Disease, you are the “heart” of our team.
To schedule an appointment, please call
What is valvular heart disease?
Valvular Heart Disease occurs when
the valves that direct blood through
your heart’s chambers do not open
or close correctly, resulting in less
blood flowing through. When you have
Valvular Heart Disease, two things can
occur, both of which makes it harder for
your heart to pump blood to the rest of
- stenosis, which means a valve
does not open all the way, resulting in
the blood flowing through a smaller
than normal opening
- regurgitation, which means
a valve does not close all the
way, resulting in the blood flowing
backward or forward through the valve
instead of only forward
Abnormal valves also can cause an
irregular heartbeat or blood clots to form
in the heart.
Valvular Heart Disease can be caused
by a birth defect in the valve, calcium or
plaque in the valve, an infection, valve
degeneration or IV drug use. Symptoms
can include increased shortness of
breath, chest pain, swelling of legs or
ankles, tiredness, dizziness, fainting and
How is valvular heart disease treated?
Once stenosis or regurgitation reaches
a certain point, surgery often is recommended
to repair or replace the improperly
functioning heart valves.
- Valve replacement involves a surgeon
removing the damaged valve and
replacing it with an artificial valve. Valves
can be made of animal heart tissues or
- Valve repair involves a
reconstruction of the damaged valve by a variety of methods which may include removing or moving part of the valve tissue, inserting a ring around the valve to tighten the area around it or other surgical techniques.
How do I know if I'm a good candidate?
Your doctor will order an echocardiogram
to see how well your heart valves
are working. If surgery seems like the
best treatment for your condition, a
surgeon will evaluate you and take into
consideration your age, health, lifestyle
and ability to take blood thinner medication
before making recommendations
about the best treatment option for you.
How is heart valve surgery performed?
In most cases, heart valve surgery
can be performed less invasively than
traditional open heart surgeries. At
Memorial, we offer a minimally invasive
valve surgery called a ministernotomy.
This involves a three-inch incision either
at the top or bottom of the breast bone,
depending on which valve is being
treated. Advantages of this type of
- less trauma to the body
- less blood loss during surgery
- less scarring
- less pain at the incision site
- shorter hospital stay
- quicker recovery
Why choose Memorial?
Memorial Medical Center and its
physician partners are committed to
high-quality, patient-centered care. In
pursuit of our mission to improve the
health of the people and communities
we serve, we have a committed heart
team of expertly trained, highly experienced
professionals who have access
to cutting-edge technology.
Meet our Cardiothoracic Surgeon
Vassileva, M.D., is a
with SIU HealthCare who
practices all aspects of
cardiothoracic surgery and
specializes in minimally
invasive valve surgery, including mitral
valve repair. She is an assistant professor
of cardiothoracic surgery at Southern
Illinois University School of Medicine.
Prior to joining SIU, Vassileva completed
her cardiothoracic fellowship at the
Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston,
a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical
School. She completed her general
surgery residency and received her
medical degree at Johns Hopkins
Medical School in Baltimore.