The most important tool for monitoring the progression of your disease is YOU. It is critical that you pay attention to feelings of breathlessness (with activity or at rest), chest discomfort (especially with activity), and fainting spells. When these symptoms first start or are severe, you should report them immediately to your healthcare provider. An angina log and activity log are available from the American Heart Association.
Beyond your report of symptoms, your provider may elect to follow blood work (brain natriuretic peptide) and imaging studies (for example, echocardiograms) to monitor the progression of your valve disease. The frequency of this monitoring depends on the severity of your disease. For mild disease, these tests might be performed every 2 to 3 years, while for more severe disease they may be performed every 6 to 12 months.
“Some of the best advice my doctor gave me was to stay in the best shape that I could so that I could more easily recognize changes in my capacity to exercise. I was told that if I were sedentary, it would have been harder to recognize negative changes in my valve.“ Todd Maser, Surgical Aortic Valve Replacement Patient