Heart Valve Disease
Heart Valve Disease: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatments: The heart has four valves that ensure that blood flows in only one direction through the heart.
The four valves are the mitral, tricuspid, pulmonary, and aortic valves. Each valve has flaps or leaflets that open and close once in each heartbeat. Blood flow through your heart to the other parts of your body will be disrupted if one or more of the valves doesn’t open or close properly.
Heart valve disease is a condition that occurs when the valves in your heart are not working properly. One or more of the valves may be malfunctioning, preventing proper blood flow through your heart to the other parts of your body.
Symptoms of Heart Valve Disease
Some people with heart valve disease might not experience symptoms for a long period of time. The disease may get worse over time and symptoms will begin to appear.
Symptoms of heart valve disease may include:
- Heart murmur
- Chest pain
- Abdominal swelling
- Shortness of breath
- Swelling of ankles and feet
- Irregular heartbeat (palpitations)
- Unexplained weight gain
Causes of Heart Valve Failure
Heart valve disease may be present at birth and can also occur in adults. Certain infections can cause heart valve failure.
Conditions that may cause the heart valves not to work properly include:
When the valve flaps don’t close properly, it can cause blood to flow backward in your heart.
When the valve flaps become thick or stiff, it results in a narrowed valve opening which causes reduced flow of blood through the valve.
This is a condition whereby the valve isn’t formed causing the tissue to block the flow of blood between the heart chambers.
There are several factors that can increase the risk of heart disease. These include:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- History of certain infections
- History of certain forms of heart disease
- Congenital heart disease
A physical examination will be conducted. Your medical history as well as your family history will also be reviewed.
Several tests may also be conducted. These include:
Using a chest X-ray, your doctor can determine if your heart is enlarged. An enlarged heart may indicate certain types of heart disease.
Using a cardiac MRI, your doctor can assess the size and function of your lower heart chambers.
Using this test, your doctor can assess the structure of your heart, including the heart valves and flow of blood through your heart.
This test measures the electrical impulses from your heart, helping your doctor to detect enlarged chambers of your heart or heart disease.
This test helps your doctor to monitor your heart’s response to physical exertion. It helps your doctor know the state of your heart.
Treatment for Heart Valve Disease
Treatment for heart valve disease depends on your symptoms and the severity of the condition. Your condition will be monitored and you may need regular follow-up visits
Treatment options include:
You may be prescribed some medications to treat your symptoms and reduce further damage. Medications are usually given for a mild valve condition or for individuals for whom surgery is not an option.
Blood thinners help to reduce the risk of blood clots. Anticoagulants such as warfarin and antiplatelets such as aspirin are common blood thinners that you may take to prevent blood clots.
These medications help to reduce the workload of the heart by helping the heart beat slower.
Antibiotics can be given to treat infections.
These medications open up blood vessels more fully. They also help reduce high blood pressure.
These medications can help reduce the heart’s workload by opening and relaxing blood vessels.
Surgery may be needed to repair or replace the diseased heart valve.
Surgery options include;
Heart valve repair
A heart valve repair surgery may be needed to repair a damaged or diseased heart valve.
During this surgery, your surgeon may patch holes in a valve and separate valve leaflets that have fused together. The cords that support the valve may be replaced and excess valve tissue may be removed to allow the valve close tightly.
Heart valve replacement
A heart valve replacement surgery may be needed if the diseased heart valve can’t be repaired. The diseased or damaged valve will be removed and replaced with a mechanical valve or a valve made from cow, pig, or human heart tissue.
Is heart valve disease life-threatening?
In many cases, a diseased or damaged heart valve can be surgically repaired or replaced, restoring normal function. If heart valve disease is left untreated, it can get worse and can reduce the quality of life, and become life-threatening. It could even lead to death.
What is the most common heart valve disease?
The most common heart disease is the Mitral valve prolapse. It occurs when the mitral valve doesn’t open and close properly, causing blood to leak backward across the valve. It causes the heart to work harder to pump blood in an effort to make up for the backward blood flow.
Is heart valve disease serious?
It is a serious disease that could become life-threatening if left untreated. It can cause several complications including heart failure, blood clots, stroke, and even death.
Is heart valve disease curable?
It can be treated and surgically repaired. Medications for heart disease are aimed at improving your symptoms and preventing your condition from getting worse. Surgery can help provide a lasting solution by repairing or replacing the damaged valve.
How can I strengthen my heart valve naturally?
You can strengthen your heart valve naturally by:
- Lose excess weight and maintain a healthy weight
- Eat heart-healthy foods such as salmon, vegetables, chocolate, wine, and guacamole
- Avoid smoking
- Avoid eating a lot of food at once
- Avoid stress
How long can you live with heart valve disease?
You can live a normal life if heart disease is timely diagnosed and treated. If left untreated, it could get worse, thereby reducing your lifespan. Diseased heart valves don’t repair or heal themselves. If you’re experiencing symptoms of heart disease, you need to visit a cardiologist for proper diagnosis and treatment.