Heart Valve Disease: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Home remedy

Overview

Heart valve problems occur when one or more of your heart valves not work properly. Your heart has four valves: the tricuspid, pulmonary, mitral, and aortic valves. They have tissue flaps that open and close with each heartbeat, keeping blood flowing in the correct direction. The cases of heart valve problems can be divided into:

  • Stenosis – The opening of the valve is so narrow that the forward flow of blood is affected
  • Regurgitation – The valve doesn’t close properly. It leaks, sometimes leading to a significant backflow of blood.
  • Atresia – This occurs when the blood flow is blocked between the heart chambers due to a solid sheet of tissue.

Symptoms

Although some people with heart valve disease may have no signs or symptoms, there are still some possible symptoms, including:

  • Abnormal sound (heart murmur) when a doctor is listening to the heart beating with a stethoscope
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath, particularly when you have been very active or when you lie down
  • Swelling of your ankles and feet
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Irregular heartbeat

 

Causes

Heart valve problems can either be present at birth or be acquired during your lifetime. The factors contributing to congenital problems are not clear, though the causes of acquired ones may involve:

  • Heart conditions and other disorders

Heart conditions, such as advanced high blood pressure and heart failure, atherosclerosis in the aorta, damage and scar tissue due to a heart attack or injury to the heart, may stretch and distort the heart valves.

  • Rheumatic fever

Rheumatic fever that develops from untreated bacterial infections (strep throat or others) may result in heart valve problems.

  • Infections

If germs enter the bloodstream and get carried to the heart, the inner surface of your heart sometimes will be infected. This condition is rare but serious, called infective endocarditis. It will occur in people with heart valve disease and worsen the existing condition.

In addition, other factors whose impact is not clear may have association with heart valve problems, including:

  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Carcinoid syndrome
  • Diet medicines
  • Marfan syndrome
  • Metabolic disorder
  • Radiation therapy

 

Risk factors

The following factors may put you at a greater risk of heart valve problems:

  • Older age
  • History of certain infections that can affect the heart
  • History of certain forms of heart disease or heart attack
  • High blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and other heart disease risk factors
  • Heart conditions present at birth (congenital heart disease)

 

Complications

Complications may be caused by this condition include:

  • Heart failure
  • Stroke
  • Blood clots
  • Heart rhythm abnormalities
  • Death

 

Diagnosis:

To diagnose heart valve problems, doctors usually evaluate your symptoms and conduct a physical examination, in which they will likely listen for a heart murmur, a sign of a heart valve condition. For the confirmation of diagnosis, doctors may order further tests, such as:

  • Echocardiography.
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG).
  • Chest X-ray.
  • Cardiac MRI.
  • Exercise tests or stress tests.
  • Cardiac catheterization.

 

Treatment

Treatment depends on the type of your problem and how severe it is. Common options are medications, repairing or replacing heart valves and lifestyle changes.

The main function of medicines is to:

  • Lower high blood pressure or high blood cholesterol.
  • Prevent arrhythmia
  • Thin the blood and prevent clots
  • Treat coronary heart disease
  • Treat heart failure

Whether you should repair heart valves or replace them is decided by your condition. Since repair can preserves the strength and function of the heart muscle and offer patients a lower risk of infective endocarditis, it is often preferred. However, heart valve repair is not available to any people. Furthermore, its difficulty is much higher.

Besides medications and surgery, you can improve your condition by making these healthy lifestyle changes:

  • Having a heart-healthy diet
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Getting regular physical activity
  • Managing stress
  • Avoiding tobacco

 

Keyword: heart valve problems.

 

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.