Top Things to Know: 2020 ACC/AHA Guideline for the Management of Patients With Valvular Heart Disease

Published: December 17, 2020

  1. Disease stages in patients with valvular heart disease should be classified (Stages A, B, C, and D) on the basis of symptoms, valve anatomy, the severity of valve dysfunction, and the response of the ventricle and pulmonary circulation.
  2. In the evaluation of a patient with valvular heart disease, history and physical examination findings should be correlated with the results of noninvasive testing (i.e., ECG, chest X-ray, transthoracic echocardiogram). If there is discordance between the physical examination and initial noninvasive testing, consider further noninvasive (computed tomography, cardiac magnetic resonance imaging, stress testing) or invasive (transesophageal echocardiography, cardiac catheterization) testing to determine optimal treatment strategy.
  3. For patients with valvular heart disease and atrial fibrillation (except for patients with rheumatic mitral stenosis or a mechanical prosthesis), the decision to use oral anticoagulation to prevent thromboembolic events, with either a vitamin K antagonist or a non–vitamin K antagonist anticoagulant, should be made in a shared decision-making process based on the CHA2DS2-VASc score. Patients with rheumatic mitral stenosis or a mechanical prosthesis and atrial fibrillation should receive oral anticoagulation with a vitamin K antagonist.
  4. All patients with severe valvular heart disease being considered for valve intervention should be evaluated by a multidisciplinary team, with either referral to or consultation with a Primary or Comprehensive Valve Center.
  5. Treatment of severe aortic stenosis with either a transcatheter or surgical valve prosthesis should be based primarily on symptoms or reduced ventricular systolic function. Earlier intervention may be considered if indicated by results of exercise testing, biomarkers, rapid progression, or the presence of very severe stenosis.
  6. Indications for transcatheter aortic valve implantation are expanding as a result of multiple randomized trials of transcatheter aortic valve implantation versus surgical aortic valve replacement. The choice of type of intervention for a patient with severe aortic stenosis should be a shared decision-making process that considers the lifetime risks and benefits associated with type of valve (mechanical versus bioprosthetic) and type of approach (transcatheter versus surgical).
  7. Indications for intervention for valvular regurgitation are relief of symptoms and prevention of the irreversible long-term consequences of left ventricular volume overload. Thresholds for intervention now are lower than they were previously because of more durable treatment options and lower procedural risks.
  8. A mitral transcatheter edge-to-edge repair benefits patients with severely symptomatic primary mitral regurgitation who are at high or prohibitive risk for surgery, as well as a select subset of patients with secondary mitral regurgitation who remain severely symptomatic despite guideline-directed management and therapy for heart failure.
  9. Patients presenting with severe symptomatic isolated tricuspid regurgitation, commonly associated with device leads and atrial fibrillation, may benefit from surgical intervention to reduce symptoms and recurrent hospitalizations if done before the onset of severe right ventricular dysfunction or end-organ damage to the liver and kidney.
  10. Bioprosthetic valve dysfunction may occur because of either degeneration of the valve leaflets or valve thrombosis. Catheter-based treatment for prosthetic valve dysfunction is reasonable in selected patients for bioprosthetic leaflet degeneration or paravalvular leak in the absence of active infection.


Otto CM, Nishimura RA, Bonow RO, Carabello BA, Erwin JP 3rd, Gentile F, Jneid H, Krieger EV, Mack M, McLeod C, O’Gara PT, Rigolin VH, Sundt TM 3rd, Thompson A, Toly C. 2020 ACC/AHA guideline for the management of patients with valvular heart disease: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Joint Committee on Clinical Practice Guidelines [published online ahead of print December 17, 2020]. Circulation. doi: 10.1161/CIR.0000000000000923