Knowing About Valvular Heart Disease
Valvular heart disease occurs when there is obstruction of blood flow due to damage or degeneration or a defect in one of the four heart valves that are -aortic, mitral and tricuspid and pulmonary valve, these valves are situated in such a way that they direct the flow of blood into the ventricles, in forward direction and make sure that it does flow backwards through the open mitral and tricuspid valves. Blood flows from the right and left atria into the ventricles till they are full, once it is done mitral and tricuspid valves close to avoid backward flow of blood into the atria.
The role of the pulmonic and the aortic valves is to open when the ventricles begin to contract , and pump the blood out of the ventricles through the open valves into the pulmonary artery , directing the blood flow towards the lungs, the aorta and the rest of the body. The aortic and pulmonic valves close when the ventricles are relaxing after completing contraction. This cycle goes on, causing blood to flow continuously to the heart, lungs and the body.
Causes of valvular heart disease
There are many factors and heart conditions that can be the cause of valvular heart disease. Some of the causes are:
- Atherosclerosis in the aorta (artery that carries oxygen-rich blood to the body)
- Injury to the heart
- Autoimmune disorders (can damage the aortic and mitral valves)
- Carcinoid syndrome (can damage the tricuspid and pulmonary valves)
- Metabolic disorders
- Older age
- Certain medicines
- high cholesterol
- congenital heart disease
- Radiation therapy (used to treat cancer)
Risks of valvular heart disease
- Blood clots
- abnormalities in heart beats
- Heart failure
- neurologic disorders
Symptoms of Valvular heart disease
- Unusual fatigue (tiredness)
- Shortness of breath
- irregular heartbeat
- Swelling in your legs, feet and ankles
- swelling of abdomen
- swelling of veins in the neck area
Diagnosing Valvular Heart Disease
Physical Exam – the doctor will probably listen for a heart murmur, as this can indicate heart valve problem, will check the swollen parts of your body and will try to check the lungs for fluid accumulation.
The doctor may order several tests to diagnose your condition that include
- Echocardiography (echo) – This test is conducted to evaluate the structure of your heart, and the functioning of the heart valves.
- Electrocardiogram (ECG) – this test, is done to check for enlargement of heart chambers ,heart disease and abnormal heart beats
- Chest X-ray – this is done to check for enlarged heart, and also to detect certain types of heart valve disease.
- stress tests – it is done to monitor your heart’s ability to tolerate physical stress
- Cardiac MRI – This test is conducted to check the functioning of the ventricles
- Cardiac catheterization – this test is done, If other tests are not accurate to determine the condition of valves
Treatment for heart valvular disease includes –
- Taking medicines to treat various health issues such as blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart failure and other illnesses
- Surgery to repair or replace a faulty heart valve.
- Doctors also can treat faulty aortic valves with the ross procedure.
- Lifestyle changes are recommended such as Switching to healthy diet, stop smoking,reducing stress and regular exercise