What is heart valve disease?


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Know the basics

What is heart valve disease?

Heart valve disease is a condition where your heart valves don’t function as they should. There are four valves in your heart. They are responsible for guiding the blood flow in the correct direction. During each heartbeat, the valves open and close once. When the opening and closing of your heart valve functions malfunction, it can disrupt the blood flow.  Heart valve disease also includes any condition that related to the valves, such as carotid stenosis. Heart valve disease can lead to many other heart conditions, like hypertension and heart failure.

How common is heart valve disease?

This health condition is more common in older people. It can affect patients at any age. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Know the symptoms

What are the symptoms of heart valve disease?

Heart valve disease can result in a variety of symptoms. The common signs and symptoms of heart valve disease are:

  • Shortness of breath;
  • Heart palpitations;
  • Fatigue;
  • Discomfort or pain in chest;
  • Dizziness or weakness;
  • Fainting;
  • Headaches;
  • A cough;
  • Water retention, which can result in swelling in the lower extremities and abdomen;
  • Pulmonary edema;
  • Swelling of your ankles, feet, or abdomen;
  • Rapid weight gain.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms of an infection like sore throat, general body aches and fever, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Know the causes

What causes heart valve disease?

In some cases, heart valve disease is a birth defect. However, this condition is often caused by a medical condition. Some conditions that can lead to heart valve disease are:

  • Infective endocarditis, which is an inflammation of the heart tissue;
  • Rheumatic fever, which is an inflammatory disease brought on by an infection with group a streptococcus bacteria;
  • Aortic aneurysm, which is an abnormal swelling or bulging of the aorta;
  • Atherosclerosis, which is a hardening of the arteries;
  • Myxomatous degeneration, which is a weakening of connective tissue in the mitral valve;
  • Lupus, which is a chronic autoimmune disorder;
  • Coronary artery disease;
  • Cardiomyopathy and syphilis;
  • Connective tissue diseases;
  • Tumors, some types of drugs, and radiation.

Know the risk factors

What increases my risk for heart valve disease?

There are many risk factors for heart valve disease, such as:

  • Older people;
  • Lack of physical activity.
  • Having history of heart diseases, such as endocarditis, hypertension or rheumatic fever.

Understand the diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is heart valve disease diagnosed?

To diagnose your heart valve disease, your doctor can listen to your heart through a stethoscope during a physical exam. Your doctor will search for heart rate abnormalities that might indicate a problem with your heart valves.

Other tests after a physical exam are imaging tests and tests for your blood flow. Then, your doctor can monitor your heart valve’s process and choose the suitable treatment.

  • Chest X-ray: This test will show your doctor the shape, size and position of the heart because sometimes heart valve disease can enlarge the heart.
  • Echocardiography and transesophageal echocardiography: These test use soundwaves (ultrasound) to produce detail pictures of your heart and the arteries surrounding it.
  • Cardiac catheterization: This test allows the doctor to see if there is any abnormality in your blood flow which can be caused by your valve.

How is heart valve disease treated?

Based on how severe your heart valve disease is, what symptoms you have, your doctor can suggest some treatments for you. You can be required to get consistent medical supervision, get rid of smoking if you smoke, follow a healthy diet

Your doctor can prescribe you some medications to treat your condition. They can be beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers that help control heart rate and blood flow; diuretics to reduce fluid retention; vasodilators which open or dilate blood vessels.

In case you are in severe condition, a surgery is needed/ This may include a heart valve repair using your own tissue, or an animal valve if you’re having a biological valve replacement, or a donated valve from another person, or a mechanical, or artificial valve.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage heart valve disease?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with heart valve disease:

  • Know the type and extent of your heart valve disease;
  • Tell all your doctors and dentist you have valve disease;
  • Call the doctor if you have symptoms of an infection;
  • Take good care of teeth and gums;
  • Take antibiotics before you undergo any procedure that may cause bleeding;
  • Take your medications in following your doctor’s instructions;
  • Visit your doctor regularly.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: May 30, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017

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