There are mainly four types of valves present in our heart and they are mitral, tricuspid, aortic, and pulmonic valves. Heart valve disease occurs only when heart valves don’t function properly.
Types of valvular Heart Disease
The types of heart valve disease are
- Valvular stenosis – Heart valves become tight and narrow resulting restriction in blood flow. Hence, the heart has to work hard to pump blood resulting heart failure.
- Valvular insufficiency (regurgitation) – Leaflets do not close completely causing the blood to flow back. Heart has to work more to compensate for leaky valve resulting heart failure
Causes of valvular Heart Disease
Some causes are given below, since many reasons for valvular heart disease is yet not found.
- Congenital valve disease - this congenital valve disease (structural defects) develops before birth. This disease affects commonly aortic or pulmonary valve
- Bicuspid aortic valve disease – Normally aortic valve has three leaflets. Bicuspid aortic valve disease is a deformity of the aortic valve in which the valve will have only two leaflets. Because of this defect, the valve can’t function normally.
- Acquired valve disease- this disease may be due to any infections, or structural defect, and examples are
- Rheumatic fever: this fever is caused by bacterial infection and may lead to mitral regurgitation
- Endocarditis: endocarditis is caused by some germs and bacteria entering the blood stream. These germs and bacteria attack the heart valves and leads to leaky valve
- Mitral valve prolapsed
- Coronary artery disease
- Heart attack
- Aortic aneurysms
- Connective tissue disease
- Some drugs or radiation
Symptoms of heart Valve Disease
- Shortness of breath
- Weakness or dizziness
- Discomfort in your chest.
- Swelling of your ankles, feet or abdomen
- Rapid weight gain
How are heart valve diseases diagnosed?
Diagnostic test are
- Transesophageal echocardiography
- Radionuclide scans
- Cardiac catheterization (angiogram)
- Magnetic resonance imaging
How is heart valve disease Treated?
Treatment completely depends upon the severity and type of heart valve disease. Treatment plans aim at three conditions
- Protecting your valve from further damage
- Lessening symptoms
- Repairing or replacing valves
1) Protecting your valve from further damage -Even if your valve is repaired or replaced by surgery, you are still at a risk of having endocarditis. To protect yourself, you must remember the following things
- Tell your doctors and dentist you have valve disease.
- Consult your doctor if you have symptoms of an infection
- Take good care of your teeth and gums to prevent infections
- Take antibiotics before you undergo any procedure that may cause bleeding, such as any dental work, invasive tests, major or minor surgery
2) Lessening symptoms - Medications for heart valve disease
Your prescribed medications not only treat your symptoms but also will lessen the further damage to heart valves. Medications prescribed includes
- Diuretics (to reduce the symptoms for heart failure)
- Antiarrhythmic medications (helps to control heart rhythm)
- Vasodilators (helps to reduce the workload of heart)
- ACE inhibitors (to treat high blood pressure and heart failure)
- Beta blockers (to treat high blood pressure and palpitation)
- Anticoagulants ("blood thinners")
3) Repairing or replacing valves - Surgery and Other Procedures
Heart valves can be repaired or replaced with traditional heart valve surgery or a minimally invasive heart valve surgical procedure. Heart valves may also be repaired by other procedures such as percutaneous balloon valvotomy.
Living with heart valve disease
If you are suffering from heart valve disease or you have had heart valve surgery, it is necessary for you to protect yourself from future heart problems. Here are some tips for you to keep healthy
- Know the type and extent of your valve disease.
- Tell all your doctors and dentist you have valve disease.
- Call your doctor if you have symptoms of an infection.
- Take good care of your teeth and gums.
- Take antibiotics before you undergo any procedure that may cause bleeding.
- Take your medications.Follow your doctor's instructions when you take your medications.
- See your heart doctor for regular visits, even if you have no symptoms.