What is Heart Valve Disease?
Heart valve disease (HVD) is a condition in which one or more of the heart’s valves don’t work properly.
There are four valves in the heart: the tricuspid valve, pulmonary valve, mitral valve, and aortic valve. Heart valves open and close with each heartbeat, making sure that blood flows through the heart in the right direction.
If a heart valve doesn’t work well, it can cause problems. Heart valve disease can interfere with blood flow and put extra strain on your heart. In some cases, heart valve disease can lead to heart failure.
There are two main types of HVD:
– valvular stenosis,when the valve doesn’t open all the way
– valvular insufficiency or regurgitation, when the valve doesn’t close tightly
Heart valve disease can be caused by a number of things, including:
– congenital heart defects (problems with the heart that are present at birth)
– rheumatic fever (a childhood illness that can damage the valves)
– certain infections, such as endocarditis (an infection of the inner lining of the heart)
Symptoms of Heart Valve Disease
Heart valve disease symptoms depend on how severe the condition is. In some cases, there may be no symptoms at all. When symptoms do occur, they may include:
– chest pain
– shortness of breath
– irregular heartbeat
– lightheadedness or fainting
Heart valve disease can also cause heart murmur. A heart murmur is an extra or unusual sound heard during a heartbeat. Heart murmurs are often harmless. But in some cases, they can be a sign of heart valve disease.
Diagnosis of Heart Valve Disease
Heart valve disease is often first diagnosed during a physical exam. Your doctor will listen to your heart with a stethoscope and may hear a heart murmur. Other tests used to diagnose HVD include:
– echocardiogram (heart ultrasound)
– cardiac MRI
– cardiac CT scan
– cardiac catheterization
Treatment for Heart Valve Disease
Heart valve disease treatment depends on how severe the condition is. In some cases, no treatment may be necessary. For mild to moderate HVD, treatment may include:
– medications, such as blood thinners or beta blockers
– making lifestyle changes, such as exercising and eating a healthy diet
Surgery may be needed to repair or replace a damaged heart valve. Types of heart valve surgery include:
– valvoplasty (valve repair)
– valve replacement surgery