Heart valve disease refers to various disorders that cause one or more of the heart’s valves to malfunction. Heart valve problems, if left untreated, can make your heart work harder. This can lower your quality of life and possibly risk it. In many circumstances, the best heart hospital in Hyderabad can repair or replace your heart valves with surgery or minimally invasive treatment, restoring normal function and allowing you to resume regular activities.
Medicines can help with blood flow difficulties, but they aren’t always enough. The valves that keep the blood flowing in one way through the heart are prone to heart valve disease. If your valve has to be fixed or replaced, your healthcare practitioner can notify you.
The four valves in your heart are:
1. Mitral Valve
2. Tricuspid Valve
3. Aortic Valve
4. Pulmonary Valve
Treatment for heart valve disease is determined by the affected heart valve and its severity. Heart valve illness may necessitate surgery to repair or replace the valve.
What Are the Different Types of Heart Valve Diseases?
We all know the heart consist of 4 valves, which keep the blood flow in the correct direction. Any disorder in the flow results in a Heart Valve disease condition. Here are four types of heart valve diseases:
Mitral Valve Prolapse
When the mitral valve does not seal properly, blood flows back into the heart, resulting in this disease.
Bicuspid Aortic Valve Disease
Bicuspid aortic valve disease occurs when an individual is born with two flaps instead of the standard three flaps on their aortic valve.
The stenosis condition occurs when a valve cannot fully open, resulting in decreased blood flow through the valve. It happens when the heart valve stiffens or thickens, affecting any heart valve.
Valvular Regurgitation or Leaky Valve
This disorder develops when one or more heart valves fail to seal properly, causing blood to flow backward.
What Causes Heart Valve Disease?
The flaps (leaflets) on each of the heart’s valves open and close once per heartbeat. If one or more of the valves fails to open or seal properly, blood flow from your heart to your body is disturbed. Heart valve disease may be congenital (present at birth). It can also happen to adults for various reasons and circumstances, including infections and other heart problems.
Below are some of the most common heart valve disease causes:
• Rheumatic fever, caused by untreated strep throat.
• Broken heart as a result of a heart attack.
• Blood pressure that is too high (advanced).
• A congenital issue, such as an improperly developed pulmonary or aortic valve, has been present since birth.
• Valve tissue degeneration or calcification, resulting in loss of function over time.
• Aneurysm of the thoracic aorta (dilation of the aorta, which stretches the aortic valve leaflets and can cause leakage)
• Heart failure
• Infective endocarditis
The Symptoms of Heart Valve Disease
Some people with heart valve disease may go years without experiencing any symptoms. When heart valve disease symptoms appear, they may include the following:
• Chest pain
• Shortness of breath
• Heart murmur (whooshing sound) heard with a stethoscope
• Heart palpitations (a feeling that the heart has added an extra beat or skipped a beat)
• Retention of fluids, especially in the abdomen (stomach) and lower limbs
• Pulmonary edema (excess fluid in the lungs)
When your doctor examines you and listens to your heart using a stethoscope, they may notice the following indicators of heart valve disease:
• Fluid in your lungs.
• An enlarged heart.
• A heart murmur could mean blood is moving through a stenotic or leaky valve.
• Swelling in your ankles.
A variety of medical testing can also detect heart valve disease. Repeating testing over time can help your doctor track the progression of your valve disease and make treatment options.
Sound waves from a wand-like device (transducer) are directed at your heart, producing motion video images of your heart. This test evaluates your heart’s anatomy, heart valves, and blood flow via your heart. Echocardiography allows your doctor to examine the heart valves in detail and determine how well they are functioning. Doctors may also use a 3D echocardiography.
Electrical impulses from your heart are measured using wires (electrodes) placed on pads on your skin. An electrocardiogram (ECG) can detect enlarged heart chambers, cardiac illness, and irregular heart rhythms.
A cardiac MRI creates comprehensive images of your heart using magnetic fields and radio waves. It can analyze the size and function of your lower heart chambers and establish the severity of your illness.
Various exercise tests can assess your activity tolerance and track your heart’s response to physical effort. If you cannot exercise, drugs that imitate the effects of exercise on the heart may be prescribed.
Your doctor can use a chest X-ray to see if your heart is enlarged, suggesting signs of some types of heart valve disease.
Heart valve disease can be caused by many reasons, including:
• Known history of illnesses that can harm the heart
• Having had a heart attack or certain types of heart disease in the past
• Hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, and other risk factors for heart disease
• Heart problems that were evident at birth (congenital heart disease)
What Is the Treatment for Heart Valve Disease?
If left untreated, heart valve disease can be fatal. Although damage to a heart valve cannot be reversed, it can be treated. Treatments for heart valve disease vary depending on the underlying cause and may include:
• Protect your valve from further damage.
• Taking medications.
• Having surgery or invasive procedures if necessary.
• See your heart doctor for regular visits.
Even if you don’t have symptoms, you may need heart valve surgery to repair or replace the defective heart valve. Your doctor may fix or replace the faulty valve. Heart valve surgery is often conducted through a cut (incision) in the chest. Doctors occasionally perform minimally invasive heart surgery, which requires fewer incisions than open-heart surgery. The surgery options include:
Heart Valve Repair
Your doctor may recommend heart valve repair to preserve your heart valve. The practices include in a heart valve repair are:
• Patching up the holes in a valve
• Separating fused valve leaflets
• Replacing the cords that hold the valve in place.
• Removing excess valve tissue so that the valve can close tightly.
Heart Valve Replacement
Heart valve disease treatment without surgery is called Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR), a minimally invasive treatment to replace a damaged aortic valve. If the damaged valve cannot be repaired, surgeons may replace it with a mechanical valve or one manufactured from cow, pig, or human heart tissue. You will need to take blood-thinning drugs for the rest of your life if you get a mechanical valve replacement.
How to Prevent the Heart Valve Disease?
Heart valve diseases can be prevented with fundamental lifestyle changes. Here are a few lifestyle changes for your heart valve disease prevention:
• Eat a healthy diet
• Maintain a healthy weight
• Exercise regularly
• Manage stress
• Quit smoking
• Limit alcohol consumption
The Final Word
Although heart valve disease is a chronic ailment, it can be managed with medications and surgery. Your cardiologist can advise you on the best course of action. You can also contribute, regardless of what your provider does. You can increase your physical activity, eat heart-healthy foods, and refrain from using tobacco products. Make sure to take any prescription medications as directed and attend your follow-up appointments.