What are the Heart Valve Diseases?

Dr Foram Bhuta

Dr Foram Bhuta

BDS (Bachelor of Dental Surgery), 10 years of experience

February 28, 2022 Heart Diseases 341 Views

English हिन्दी Bengali

What is the meaning of Heart Valve Disease?

When one or more heart valves do not work properly, the condition is known as heart valve disease. The heart has four valves, called the aortic valve, mitral valve, pulmonary valve, and tricuspid valve. The valves have flaps that open and close with each heartbeat, allowing blood flow through the upper chambers (called atria) and lower chambers (called ventricles) of the heart and to the rest of the body. The valves ensure that the blood flows in the forward direction and does not back up or lead to leakage. In the case of a heart valve disorder, the valve does not do this job properly. In this article, we will be discussing in detail heart valve diseases.

  • What are the different types of Heart Valve Diseases?
  • What are the causes of Heart Valve Diseases?
  • What are the risk factors for Heart Valve Diseases?
  • What are the symptoms of Heart Valve Diseases?
  • How to diagnose Heart Valve Diseases?
  • What is the treatment for Heart Valve Diseases?
  • What are the complications of Heart Valve Diseases?
  • How to prevent Heart Valve Diseases?

What are the different types of Heart Valve Diseases?

The different types of heart valve diseases include:

  • Mitral valve prolapse: This is a condition that occurs when the mitral valve does not close properly, causing the blood to flow back into the heart.
  • Bicuspid aortic valve disease: When an individual is born with an aortic valve having two flaps, instead of the normal three flaps, the condition is known as bicuspid aortic valve disease.
  • Valvular stenosis: When a valve is not able to open completely, causing less blood to flow through the valve, the condition is known as stenosis. It occurs due to the stiffening or thickening of the heart valve and may occur in any of the heart valves.
  • Valvular regurgitation or leaky valve: This condition occurs when any of the heart valves do not close properly, causing the blood to flow backward.

( Know more about- What is Heart Valve Replacement Surgery? )

What are the causes of Heart Valve Diseases?

The different causes of heart valve diseases include:

  • Congenital (birth) defect
  • Infective endocarditis (heart tissue inflammation)
  • Heart attack
  • Rheumatic fever (an inflammatory condition caused due to a bacterial infection)
  • Age-related changes, like calcium deposits
  • Cardiomyopathy (degenerative changes in the heart)
  • Coronary artery disease (a condition in which the arteries supplying the heart become narrow and harden)
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Syphilis (a sexually transmitted infection)
  • Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)
  • Aortic aneurysm (abnormal bulging or swelling of the aorta)
  • Lupus (an autoimmune condition)
  • Myxomatous degeneration (the connective tissue in the mitral valve weakens)

( Know more about- What are the causes of Cardiomyopathy? )

What are the risk factors for Heart Valve Diseases?

The following factors may increase the risk of developing heart valve diseases:

  • Increase in age
  • History of infections that may affect the heart
  • History of heart attack
  • History of heart diseases
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Congenital heart diseases

( Know more about- What is Heart Attack? )

What are the symptoms of Heart Valve disease?

Mild cases of valvular heart diseases may not have any symptoms. The symptoms, if present, seen in heart valve diseases include:

  • Fatigue
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart murmur (whooshing sound) heard with a stethoscope
  • Heart palpitations (a feeling that the heart has added an extra beat or skipped a beat)
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Cough
  • Headaches
  • Retention of fluids, especially in the abdomen (stomach) and lower limbs
  • Pulmonary edema (excess fluid in the lungs)

( Know more about- What is Dizziness? Home remedies for Dizziness )

How to diagnose Heart Valve Diseases?

  • Physical examination: The doctor will check for a heart murmur by using a stethoscope. The doctor also checks for signs of fluid retention and listens to the lungs to check for fluid buildup. Your medical history and family history are also noted.
  • Electrocardiogram: It is a test done to measure the electrical activity of the heart, and check for abnormal heart rhythms.
  • Echocardiogram: Sound waves are used to create images of the heart valves and chambers.

( Know more about- What is Echocardiography? )

  • Chest x-ray: This test is done to obtain an image of the heart. This can help the doctor in identifying an enlarged heart.
  • MRI scan: This test helps in obtaining a detailed image of the heart. This helps the doctor in confirming a diagnosis and determination of the best treatment plan for your valve disorder.
  • Stress test: This test helps in determining how a person’s symptoms are affected due to exertion, and how severe is the heart condition.
  • Cardiac catheterization: This test uses a thin tube or catheter with a camera on one end to take images of the heart and blood vessels. This test helps the doctor in determining the severity and type of valve disorder.

( Know more about- What is Cardiac Catheterization? )

What is the treatment for Heart Valve Diseases?

The treatment of heart valve disease depends on the type of disease, the severity of the condition, symptoms of the patient, and if the condition is worsening.

The treatment may include:

Medications:

  • Calcium channel blockers, beta-blockers, and digoxin can help in reducing the symptoms of heart valve disease by controlling the heart rate of the patient and help in preventing abnormal heart rhythms.
  • Medications for controlling blood pressure, like vasodilators (medications that relax the blood vessels and decrease the force against which the heart pumps) or diuretics (medications that help in removal of excess water from the body by increasing the output of urine) help in easing the work of the heart.
  • Blood-thinners may be used to reduce the risk of developing blood clots if you have irregular heart rhythm like atrial fibrillation.

( Know more about- What is Aortic Valve Surgery? )

Surgery: 

  • Surgery may be required to repair or replace malfunctioned heart valves. 
  • A heart valve surgery is normally performed by making an incision or cut in the chest area.
  • The doctor may sometimes prefer to do a minimally invasive heart surgery, which includes making smaller incisions as compared to a large incision that is made for open-heart surgery.
  • The doctor may prefer to do a robot-assisted minimally invasive type of heart surgery, where the surgery is performed by robotic arms that are controlled by the surgeon.
  • Surgical options may include:

Heart valve repair: 

  • A heart valve repair surgery may be needed to preserve the heart valve. 
  • The surgeon may patch the holes in a valve, separate the valve flaps that have fused, replace the cords supporting the valve, or remove the excess valve tissue to allow the valve to close tightly.
  • The surgeon tightens or reinforces the ring around the valve (annulus) by the implantation of an artificial ring.
  • The doctors may sometimes use less invasive procedures for repairing certain valves by using long, thin tubes, known as catheters. These procedures can include the use of plugs, clips, or other devices.

Heart valve replacement:

  • If the valve cannot be repaired, the surgeon may remove the damaged valve and replace it with a mechanical valve (man-made synthetic valve) or biological valve (made from human or animal tissue).
  • If you have a valve replacement using a mechanical valve, you will need to take blood-thinning medications for the rest of your life.
  • Biological valves normally break down over time and may require replacement.
  • Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is a minimally invasive procedure that may be used to replace a damaged aortic valve. The procedure involves the insertion of a catheter into an artery in the chest or leg and guiding it to the heart valve. A replacement valve is then moved through the catheter to its correct position.

( Know more about- What is Mitral Valve Surgery? )

What are the complications of Heart Valve Diseases?

The risks associated with valvular heart diseases are:

  • Blood clot (a mass of blood) formation
  • Heart failure (failure of the heart to pump enough blood to the rest of the body)
  • Abnormalities in heart rhythms
  • Stroke (the blood supply to the brain is interrupted)
  • Death

( Know more about- Difference between Brain stroke and heart attack )

How to prevent Heart Valve Diseases?

Heart valve diseases can be prevented by making the following lifestyle changes:

  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Exercise regularly
  • Manage stress
  • Quit smoking
  • Limit alcohol consumption

( Know more about- Diet plan for Hypertension )

We hope we could answer all your questions about heart valve diseases through this article.

If you want to get more information and treatment about heart valve diseases, you can contact a good Cardiologist.

We only aim to give you information through the article. We do not recommend medication or treatment in any way. Only a doctor can give you the best advice and correct treatment plan. 

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