Valvular heart disease


Valvular heart disease

Description, Causes and Risk Factors:

The human heart consists of four chambers — two upper chambers (the atria) and two lower chambers (the ventricles) that are responsible for pumping blood. The heart valves are like one-way doors, which open and close with each beat of the heart, controlling the blood flow from one chamber to the next. Each of these valves is made up of a few thin folds of tissue. When functioning correctly, they keep blood from flowing backward into a chamber when closed.

The four valves function in the following manner:

    The mitral valve is located between the left atrium and the left ventricle. It is the only valve with two flaps, or cusps.

  • The tricuspid valve is located on the right side of the heart, between the right atrium and right ventricle. It is made up of three cusps, each a different size.

  • The aortic valve is located on the left side of the heart and opens to allow blood to leave the heart from the left ventricle into the aorta, which is the main artery of the body. It closes to prevent blood from flowing back into the left ventricle.

  • The pulmonary valve is situated on the right side of the heart, between the right ventricle and pulmonary artery. It allows blood to exit the heart and enter the lungs via the pulmonary artery. It closes to prevent blood from flowing back into the right ventricle.

Patients with valvular heart disease have a malfunction of one or more of these valves. Types of valvular heart disease include:

    Mitral valve insufficiency.

  • Mitral valve prolapse.

  • Mitral valve stenosis.

  • Aortic valve insufficiency.

  • Aortic valve stenosis.

  • Tricuspid valve insufficiency.

  • Tricuspid valve stenosis.

  • Pulmonic stenosis.

  • Pulmonic insufficiency.

Causes and Risk Factors:

    Valvular heart disease may occur as a result of infection, degeneration, or congenital abnormality. The most common infections are rheumatic fever and infective endocarditis.

  • High blood pressure and atherosclerosis may damage the aortic valve.

  • A heart attack may damage the muscles that control the heart valves.

  • Heart valve tissue may degenerate with age.

  • Other disorders such as carcinoid tumors, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, or syphilis may damage one or more heart valves.

  • Radiation therapy may also be sometimes associated with valvular heart disease.

The prognosis for patients with valvular heart disease varies depending on the underlying cause, age and health of the patient, and the degree of valvular damage or involvement

Symptoms:

Symptoms of valvular heart disease may include:

    Faintness.

  • Palpitations.

  • Cough.

  • Chest pain.

  • Shortness of breath.

  • Fatigue.

  • Weakness.

  • Excessive sweating.

  • Leg swelling.

  • Weight loss.

Diagnosis:

Specific types of valvular heart disease are diagnosed using electrocardiography (EKG), echocardiography, certain x-ray studies, and/or cardiac catheterization. An EKG provides a record of electrical changes in the heart muscle during the heartbeat. Echocardiography uses sound waves to make images of the heart. These images can show if there are any abnormalities of the heart valves. Cardiac catheterization is a procedure in which a small tube (catheter) is inserted into an artery and passed into the heart. It is used to measure pressure in the heart and the amount of blood pumped by the heart.

Treatment:

Valvular heart diseasetment and many will be treated with medication. Sometimes, patients need surgery. If multivalvular disease is suspected or involved, different valves may be evaluated during surgery on one of the affected valves. Women with heart valve disease who want to become pregnant should receive a thorough check-up and see a cardiologist regularly throughout their pregnancy.

Preventive Measures:

    Do not smoke.

  • Do not consume much alcohol.

  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet low in salt and fat, exercise regularly and lose weight if you are overweight.

  • Adhere to a prescribed treatment program for other forms of heart disease.

  • If you are diabetic, maintain careful control of your blood sugar.

Disclaimer: The above information is educational purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.

DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.

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