Dr. Harry Aldrich

“It’s an important part for everybody to take part in their own care to prevent heart disease, and the main part of doing that is to be sure that you’re not becoming overweight, keeping your blood pressure under control, and watching your cholesterol not go up,” says Dr. Harry Aldrich, Medical Director, Echocardiography, EKG and Stress Testing with Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute.

He also explains if patients are developing diabetes, they need to work to prevent that, or to get that treated to be sure their blood sugars are under control. Dr. Harry Aldrich, Medical Director, Echocardiography, EKG and Stress Testing with Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute, explains mitral valve prolapse is when the valve tissue is redundant and buckles back, so blood will come back through it.

“For most part mitral valve prolapse without severe regurgitation is a benign disease, but when the leaflets leak a lot is the disease that we need to treat,” he says. The treatment depends on the patient’s age, and how severe their symptoms are. Dr. Harry Aldrich, Medical Director, Echocardiography, EKG and Stress Testing with Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute, says aortic stenosis is more common than the aortic regurgitation or leaking of the valve. “Stenosis is when the valve becomes tighter, and doesn’t open fully. It happens more commonly with age,” he highlights.

He also explains a normal valve opens about two square centimeters, but one with stenosis is opening about halfway, that is a 50% decrease in the size of the valve as it gets to severe aortic stenosis. To diagnose a heart disease there are different tests, like CT Scan, echo, labs, EKG, physical exam, STS Score and cardiac catheterization. Dr. Harry Aldrich, Medical Director, Echocardiography, EKG and Stress Testing with Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute, says the first test is listening to the patient’s history with the physical examination, where the doctors listen for sounds of the heart, which is the first indication that someone has a heart disease.

He also says the echocardiogram or ultrasound test is a non-invasive test, where doctors can judge the degree of the murmur, how severe it is, and how severe the leaking or stenosis is. Dr. Harry Aldrich, Medical Director, Echocardiography, EKG and Stress Testing with Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute, explains the heart is a pump that has two sets of pumps: one on the right side and one on the left side, and four chambers of the heart where the blood is received and then moved to the pump.

“The blood is received into the right chamber, and then goes into the right ventricle. Then, it is pumped to the heart, through the lungs to receive oxygen,” he says and points out a malfunction can cause diseases, such as stenosis, which means the valve is getting tight, and does not move correctly. Dr. Harry Aldrich, Medical Director, Echocardiography, EKG and Stress Testing with Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute, says if someone has critical aortic stenosis, where the valve area is less than 0.5 centimeters, they may benefit from a valve replacement, because they are at a higher risk for having complications.

“We know from history studies that 50% of patients who present with symptoms of chest pain will be dead three years later, 50% of patients who present with heart failure due to aortic stenosis will die within two years. So, it is a disease that will kill people with time if it is not treated,” he points out.

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