is heart valve disease?
The heart has four valves, the aortic, mitral,
tricuspid and pulmonary. They are essential to ensure that blood runs in one
direction only. They open to allow blood to be pumped forward, then close to
prevent the blood from flowing backwards.
Malformation of a heart valve can be divided into
- Stenosis the opening of a valve is too
narrow, affecting the forward flow of blood.
- Regurgitation The valve doesn't close
properly, causing leaking. This can result in a significant backflow of blood.
heart valve disease congenital or acquired?
It can be either. Heart valve disease can be congenital
(present at birth). It is thought that many congenital cases of heart valve
disease are caused by genetic (inherited) factors.
Heart valve disease can also be acquired. This
can be caused by a number of things including:
- Hypertension (high blood pressure).
- Syphilis (a sexually transmitted disease).
- Rheumatic fever (an inflammatory illness).
are the symptoms of heart valve disease?
In mild cases there are no symptoms. Even in serious
cases few symptoms may show. When symptoms are present, they may vary according
to the valve that is affected.
Congenital heart valve disease can cause cyanosis
(a bluish colour seen on the lips), and symptoms of heart failure (for example,
shortness of breath, accumulation of fluid in the body, fainting).
Aortic stenosis (narrowing of the aortic valve)
often produces no symptoms until the valve has narrowed significantly. Then
symptoms can include angina, fainting and shortness of breath after exertion.
Aortic regurgitation (leaking of the aortic valve)
may not produce symptoms for years also. When they do begin, they may include
palpitations, arrhythmia, angina and breathlessness while lying down.
Mitral stenosis (narrowing of the mitral valve)
can produce symptoms of arrhythmia, shortness of breath after exertion and coughing
Mitral regurgitation (leaking of the mitral valve)
can produce symptoms of fatigue, breathlessness after exertion, and breathlessness
while lying down.
Pulmonic valve problems can produce symptoms of
fatigue and fainting spells.
Tricuspid stenosis (narrowing of the tricuspid
valve) can produce fatigue and symptoms of heart failure.
Tricuspid regurgitation (leaking of the tricuspid
valve) can cause symptoms of heart failure, especially heart-related breathing
long does heart valve disease last?
Unfortunately heart valve disease usually stays
with a person throughout their life. It may also worsen over time.
heart valve disease be prevented?
It depends. It is sometimes possible to avoid acquired
heart valve disease. The main way of doing this is to avoid getting rheumatic
fever. This can occur if you allow strep throat to go untreated. Therefore if
you get strep throat, ensure you seek medical treatment for it and follow the
orders you are given. If given antibiotics, it is imperative that you finish
the full course, even if the strep throat appears to have cleared up.
Unfortunately there is no way to prevent the majority
of congenital heart valve problems.
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