Heart Valve Disease

What is Heart Valve Disease?

Four valves in your heart control the direction of blood flow to and from your heart. Their function is to open and close during each heartbeat. In a condition called stenosis, a valve is unable to...

Symptoms

Some common symptoms of heart valve diseases are listed below:

  • Weakness and dizziness
  • Palpitations or irregular heartbeats
  • Discomfort in chest
  • Rapid weight gain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling of ankles, feet or abdomen

Causes

Sometimes, the problem with the valves could be congenital. It could also be acquired. In some cases, the cause of heart valve disease could be unknown. In a congenital valve disease, aorta of the heart gets affected. The valves could be too small or too big, have leaflets that are malformed or have leaflets that are not attached to the annulus correctly. In bicuspid aortic valve disease, instead of three leaflets, there could be only two. In acquired valve disease, the once-normal valves develop problems. The causes could be infections, rheumatic fever or endocarditis. Endocarditis refers to the extra-growths, holes and scars in the valves of the heart. These harmful germs could enter the blood during dental procedures, surgeries, severe infections or with IV drug usage.
A few other causes of heart valve disease are:

  • Coronary artery disease
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Syphilis
  • Hypertension
  • Aortic aneurysms
  • Diseases in connective tissues
  • Tumors
  • Excessive exposure to radiation

Risks

You could be at a risk of heart valve disease if you have:

  • Severe infections in the blood
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Aortic aneurysm
  • Connective tissue disorders

Prevention

To prevent heart valve disease, you must keep: 

  • A healthy lifestyle
  • Eat healthy non-fatty food rich in fiber
  • Decrease the consumption of tobacco, alcohol and caffeine products.
  • Exercise regularly and keep yourself fit

How is it diagnosed?

Your cardiologist at Medanta may perform any one of these tests to diagnose your condition:

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How is it treated?

The three primary aims of treating heart valve diseases are to lessen your symptoms, protecting the valves from further damage, and repairing the valves or replacing them. The most used forms of treatment adopted at Medanta are:

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  • Medication

    Drugs can be used to treat your symptoms and to lessen the chances of further damages to your valves. If you undergo a surgical procedure to treat your valves, some medication could be stopped. Some may have to be taken for long durations, depending upon the opinion of your cardiologist.

    Some common forms of medication are: 

    • Antiarrhythmic medication – To maintain the rhythm of the heart at a normal pace
    • Vasodilators – To encourage the blood flow in forward direction and prevent backward flow of blood
    • Diuretics – Water pills are used to remove excessive fluid from tissues and bloodstream
    • Beta blockers – They are used to treat high blood pressure and decrease the pressure on the heart. It can control palpitations too
    • ACE inhibitors – Used to treat high blood pressure and cardiac arrest
    • Blood thinners – Anticoagulants used to prevent clotting of blood in the valves

  • Surgical procedures

    Using the results of diagnosis, the doctor may recommend surgical procedures to treat you. This may be done if the situation is beyond control for drug therapy, or if drug therapy does not seem to cause expected results. Depending on your age, lifestyle, the location and the type of valve disease, your doctor might decide upon repairing or replacing the valves through surgery. Valves can be repaired or replaced, using a traditional heart valve surgery. A minimally invasive heart valve surgical method may also be employed. One such method is percutaneous balloon valvotomy.

When do I contact the doctor?

Contact your doctor if you experience one or more symptoms, like fainting, swelling of legs, palpitations, dizziness, etc.

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