The Heart Valve Clinic offers advanced diagnostic and treatment services for patients with heart valve disease.

Our multidisciplinary approach uses a team of cardiovascular surgeons, imaging specialists and cardiologists to expedite patient care and help determine the optimal treatment plan for each individual.

Diagnosis & Treatment Options

Heart valve disease involves the dysfunction of one or more of the four heart valves, which keep blood flowing in the right direction throughout the heart. To diagnose this condition, your doctor may use diagnostic tests, like an echocardiogram and cardiac catheterization.

Treatment may include:

  • Medications
  • Surgical valve repair
  • Surgical valve replacement
  • Balloon aortic valvuloplasty

Featured Doctors

    Hazem El-Khatib, MD

    Hazem El-Khatib, MD

    Cardiothoracic Surgery

    Dr. El-Khatib is a cardiothoracic surgeon with Three Rivers Cardiac Institute, Inc., specializing in cardiothoracic surgery and vascular surgery.  He has more than 20 years of experience and is board-certified in cardiothoracic surgery by the American Board of Thoracic Surgery. Dr. El-Khatib received his medical degree from the American University of Beirut School of Medicine in Beirut, Lebanon. He served his medical residency at the Medical College of Ohio (now the University of Toledo Medical Center) and did his fellowship at the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics.

    To make an appointment with Dr. El-Khatib, or any of the surgeons with Three Rivers Cardiac Institute, Inc., please call 724-282-4370

    In Grove City, Ellwood City, Kittanning, Clarion and Seneca, call toll-free 844-282-4370

      Samer Azouz, MD

      Samer Azouz, MD

      Interventional Cardiology

      Dr. Azouz is an interventional cardiologist with BHS Cardiovascular Consultants. He specializes and is board certified in cardiology, interventional cardiology, nuclear cardiology and endovascular medicine. Dr. Azouz has a special practice interest in peripheral artery disease (PAD) and limb salvage. He received his medical degree from the University of Aleppo in Aleppo, Syria; did his medical residency at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston; and did his fellowship at the Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City, Missouri.

      To make an appointment with Dr. Azouz, or any of the physicians with BHS Cardiovascular Consultants, please call toll-free 866-620-6761.

      For more information, contact Valve Clinic Coordinator Marie Delaney, PAC, at 724-284-4026.

      Learn more about all of Butler Health System’s heart programs and services.


      Frequently Asked Questions


      What is a multidisciplinary approach?

      A multidisciplinary approach means that a team of several physician subspecialists (i.e., a cardiologist, an interventional cardiologist and/or a cardiothoracic surgeon) will review your medical information and make a joint recommendation.

      What is the difference between a cardiologist and an interventional cardiologist?

      Cardiologists are physicians who specialize in the study of the heart.  An interventional cardiologist goes through additional training and can diagnose and treat cardiovascular diseases using catheters and stents.

      What is the difference between a cardiologist and a cardiothoracic surgeon?

      A cardiologist treats heart conditions with medications, catheters or stents. A cardiothoracic surgeon performs heart surgery, such as bypass surgery and valve repair or replacement. 

      What does it mean to have valvular heart disease?

      Heart valves control blood flow within your heart.  Over time they can become diseased and they may leak (regurgitation) or become too tight from calcification (stenosis).   Depending on the severity, your physician can decide if your valvular heart disease would be best treated medically (with medications) or surgically (with an operation.) If surgery is the better option, your cardiologist will refer you to a cardiothoracic surgeon for an evaluation.

      What type of testing is needed to diagnose valvular heart disease?

      Valvular heart disease often is detected during a physical examination by your primary care provider.  If a murmur is heard, an echocardiogram can be obtained to get a better assessment of the function of your heart and valves.  Based on the severity of your condition, your PCP may refer you to a cardiologist for an evaluation. The cardiologist may also order additional testing or refer you to a cardiothoracic surgeon.  

      When is the right time to be referred to a cardiologist?

      After discussion of your test results and symptoms, your PCP will decide on the appropriate timing for referral to a cardiologist and/or a surgeon.

      How do I know if I need surgery?

      The decision to proceed with surgery is based upon the severity of your valvular heart disease, the condition of your heart and your symptoms.  This decision will be made by your cardiologist and your cardiac surgeon after a full work-up is completed. 

      Will I need to be on Coumadin (or other blood thinners) after a valve replacement?

      There are two different types of valves—mechanical and tissue.   Patients who receive a mechanical valve require life-long therapy with blood thinners.  Patients who receive tissue valves may only need to take a daily aspirin.  The decision for what type of a valve is used is patient-specific and based on a number of factors, which will be discussed with you in detail by your surgeon.