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What are layman's terms for these descriptions of heart and valve function? 

Hi, Doctor. I am 63 years old and have recently had a complicated angiogram followed by echocardiogram. Would you please put into layman's terms: Normal LV with good systolic function and impaired LV relaxation. Good RV function. The aortic valve is trilunate and slightly sclerotic in appearance but not stenotic or regurgitant. Thank you and regards.

submitted by Paul from London, United Kingdom on 5/7/2012


by Texas Heart Institute cardiologist, Domingo G. Gonzalez, Jr., MD  Domingo G. Gonzalez, Jr., MD

The function of the ventricles is to contract (squeeze) and relax. When they contract, the action is called systole and this is when the ventricles pump blood out. When they relax, it is called diastole and this is when the ventricles receive blood. Good systolic function and good function basically means that the muscle squeezes well. A normal aortic valve has three leaflets that open and close. An abnormal one may have two, four or only one leaflet. They are "semilunar' in appearance. This is an outdated term. Trilunate basically refers to the normal, three leaflets. Sclerotic means some calcium deposition has accumulated but not enough to adversely affect function. As we age, there is a propensity to accumulate calcium in the valves, some more and some less.  

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Updated May 2012
Texas Heart Institute Heart Information Center
Through this community outreach program, staff members of the Texas Heart Institute (THI) provide educational information related to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cardiovascular disease. It is not the intention of THI to provide specific medical advice, but rather to provide users with information to better understand their health and their diagnosed disorders. Specific medical advice will not be provided and THI urges you to visit a qualified physician for diagnosis and for answers to your questions.
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