Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Valvular heart diseases
Valve disease and non-cardiac surgery
  1. John B Chambers
  1. Cardiology Department, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor John B Chambers, Cardiology Department, Guys and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, London SE1 9RT, UK; john.chambers{at}

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

Learning objectives

  • To understand the principles of assessment by type of non-cardiac surgery, the Revised Cardiac Index Risk score, the grade of valve disease and functional capacity.

  • To understand that adverse events at non-cardiac surgery result from associated coronary disease and the haemodynamic effects of the valve disease.

  • To understand the precautions necessary during and after non-cardiac surgery and when invasive intervention is indicated in severe aortic stenosis or mitral stenosis.


Valve disease is a major concern in patients having non-cardiac surgery. First, it is common (table 1)1–4 particularly in the elderly who may also have other comorbidities. The adult population prevalence of moderate or severe disease is 2.5% and this rises to >13% in people aged ≥75.1 Second, valve disease is often asymptomatic and may be detected for the first time during preoperative assessment for non-cardiac surgery. In the OxVALVE community study,3 moderate or severe valve disease was known in 4.9% people aged >65 and was newly detected by screening in a further 6.4%. Third, valve disease, particularly aortic stenosis (AS), may be associated with coronary disease which contributes to the perioperative risk.5 Fourth, recognised competencies in heart valve disease6 7 are not universal in all disciplines caring for patients having non-cardiac surgery. Finally, the evidence base is small. A combination of these factors leads to anxiety over the presence of valve disease although this is often misplaced.

View this table:
Table 1

Prevalence (%) of moderate or severe valve disease

This article discusses the assessment and perioperative management of patients with heart valve disease including replacement valves.

An approach to valve disease

If emergency life-saving surgery is needed, this should proceed immediately (figure 1).8–11 If severe valve disease is known or suspected from the history or the presence of a significant murmur, additional precautions should be taken in perioperative care (box 1).

Figure 1

An approach to valve disease. …

View Full Text


  • Contributors JC is the sole author.

  • Funding This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.