The condition known as valvular heart disease affects any damaged or ill heart valve. Several factors can bring on valve disease.

  • Right and left atria, right and left ventricles, and four valves make up the typical heart’s four chambers.
  • The tricuspid valve kinks the right atrium and right ventricle, allowing blood to flow in both directions. The bicuspid or mitral valve allows blood from the left ventricle to the left atrium.
  • The left ventricle can pump blood to the aorta through the aortic valve.
  • Right ventricular blood can flow through the pulmonary valve and into the pulmonary artery.

The valve opening and closing regulate the blood flow into and out of the heart. The three leaflets or flaps that make up three heart valves work together to open and close the valves, allowing blood to flow through the opening. There are just two leaflets in the mitral valve. During a heartbeat, healthy heart valve leaflets can fully open and close the valve, but diseased valves may not. Although the heart valve can develop a problem, the aortic valve is most frequently impacted.

Regurgitation is when a diseased valve becomes “leaky” and doesn’t entirely close. If this occurs, enough blood cannot be pushed through the heart because blood leaks back into the chamber. 

The second ordinary condition affecting heart valves is stenosis, which causes a constricted and stiff valve opening that stops the valve from fully opening while blood is trying to travel through it.

The aortic valve exhibits leaflet absences more frequently than any other valve. Blood seeps back into the chamber or up against a confined opening if the heart valves are compromised, making the heart work harder to pump blood throughout the body. The blood flow throughout the body is reduced as a result. Possible results include death, sudden cardiac arrest (when the heart stops beating), and heart failure.

Causes of valvular heart disease:

Congenital issues (having it from birth), infections, degenerative disorders (wearing down with age), and conditions linked to other types of heart disease are a few reasons for valvular heart disease.

  • Rheumatic disease:

After an infection with the strep bacteria is not treated with antibiotics, rheumatic illness may develop. The heart valve may become scarred as a result of the condition. Most strep infections in the US are treated promptly with medicines, making this the least prevalent cause of valve disease there. However, Americans born before 1943 have a higher incidence of having it.

  • Endocarditis:

Endocarditis is an infection of the heart’s inner lining brought on by a severe blood infection. The disease may spread to the heart valves, causing the leaflets to become damaged. The intravenous drug can result in endocarditis and damage the heart valves.

  • Congenital heart valve disease:

Congenital heart valve disease describes heart valve malformations such as missing leaflets. A bicuspid aortic valve, which has two rather than three leaflets, is the valve that is most frequently afflicted by a genetic abnormality. 

  • Other heart diseases:
  • A heart attack. It is caused when the blood flow to the heart is blocked by the artery that sends oxygen and blood to the heart.
  • The aorta’s attachment to the heart has atherosclerosis. The term “atherosclerosis” describes the accumulation of plaque inside blood vessels. Fat, calcium, and cholesterol make up plaque.
  • A thoracic aortic aneurysm is a protrusion or ballooning where the aorta connects to the heart.
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Myocardial infarctions (MIs), which are heart attacks, can affect the muscles that control the valve’s opening and shutting.
  • Other causes:
  • Autoimmune disease, such as lupus.
  • Heart valves may be impacted by Marfan syndrome, a connective tissue disorder.
  • The valve may develop calcium deposits due to high-dose radiation exposure. The likelihood of receiving chest radiation therapy for cancer is higher in people with valvular heart disease.
  • As we age, our heart valves may develop calcium deposits that cause them to stiffen, thicken, and lose efficiency.
  • Aging Heart valve problems may be brought on by degenerative changes or the usual “wear and tear” of aging.

Symptoms of valvular heart disease:

Heart valve disease can progress slowly or rapidly. When valve disease progresses more slowly, symptoms might not appear until the disease is well advanced. The following signs could appear more suddenly in some people;

  • Breathing difficulty
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Fainting or vertigo
  • Fever
  • Gain weight quickly
  • Palpitation 
  • Abnormal heartbeat
  • Swelling 

Diagnosis of valvular heart disease:

When listening to your heartbeat, the doctor might detect an unusual sound called a heart murmur. The doctor may identify which valve is impacted and what issue it is based on the murmur’s location, sound, and rhythm (regurgitation or stenosis).

To determine whether the valves are functioning correctly, a doctor may perform an echocardiogram, a test that employs sound waves to generate a video of the valves. Additional tests for valvular heart disease consists

 of;

  • Echocardiogram
  • Angiogram
  • A chest X-ray
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG)
  • Pressure test
  • Cardiac MRI

Risk factors of valvular heart disease:

Several factors including may impact your risk of heart valve disease;

  • Greater age
  • Existing heart-harming infections in your past
  • Existing heart disease or heart attack in the past
  • Diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and other risk factors for heart disease.
  • Problems of the heart during birth (congenital heart disease)

Complications:

Heart valve disease can result in several consequences, such as:

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Clots of blood
  • Irregularities in the heart’s rhythm
  • Death

Treatment of valvular heart disease:

Medications to address the symptoms may be used to manage the illness if it isn’t too severe. Surgery may be advised if the valve is more significantly ill and exhibiting more severe symptoms. The affected valve and the disease’s root cause will determine the kind of surgery needed. The heart may need to be opened during surgery to replace the valve, or the valve may need to be replaced on its own, depending on the condition.

  • Medications:

Valvular heart disease cannot be cured. However, medication may reduce swelling, irregular heart rhythm, high blood pressure, and other symptoms.

Your physician might advise;

  • Diuretics (water tablets) minimize fluid retention and swelling in the body.
  • Blood thinners lower the risk of additional heart issues and avoid blood clots.
  • Antiarrhythmic medications to stop erratic or fast heartbeats (arrhythmias).

If you also have valvular heart disease, you can be prescribed medication to lower the stress on your heart and relieve your symptoms (such as coronary heart disease or heart failure).

You can keep track of prescriptions, travel, storage, interactions, and more with the aid of tools and suggestions.

  • Surgeries:

To avoid permanent damage, heart valve surgery may be required to repair or replace your valves.

  • Heart valve repair:

To make heart valves capable of opening and closing suitably, holes or tears can be patched and reshaped, or the valve leaflets can be separated.

Passing a thin catheter with a balloon at the tip via a blood vessel to the narrowed valve may open valve stenosis. The valve opening is then made wider by inflating the balloon. The name of this procedure is balloon valvuloplasty.

An enlarged annulus can be repaired using an annuloplasty method (a fibrous tissue ring at the heart valve’s base). To reduce the opening, sutures are stitched around the circle. Or, to enable a tighter seal, a ring-shaped device is fastened around the edge of the valve opening.

  • Valve replacement:

If a damaged heart valve cannot be fixed, it is removed and changed out for a biological or mechanical valve. The doctor suggests the appropriate course of action for you and your circumstances.

  • Mechanical valve. Metals, carbon, ceramics, and polymers are strong materials used to make mechanical valves.
  • Biological valve. Animal tissue donated, human tissue, or a patient’s tissues can all be used to make biological valves. In comparison to mechanical valves, biological valves are less reliable. 

As a less intrusive procedure than open heart surgery, transcatheter aortic valve implantation can replace a failing aortic valve (TAVI or TAVR). In ultrasound and chest x-ray, a catheter is placed to replace the damaged valve.

  • Lifestyle modification:

Knowing and managing your blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol levels will reduce your chance of developing other cardiac conditions and stroke. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is also vital.

  • Avoid smoking.
  • Get moving more.
  • Target a healthy weight.
  • Eat a balanced, healthy diet; several particular diets you can adopt have been shown to lower the risk of heart disease.
  • Less alcohol is consumed.
  • Eliminate tension.
  • Discuss with your doctor the lifestyle modifications that will help you the most.

Vein ablation:

Varicose veins can be sealed off with a process called endovenous ablation. Endovenous refers to a technique that is carried out within a vein. Ablation refers to the use of heat by the physician to harm and seal off the vein. Varicose veins are twisted, bulging veins near the skin’s surface.

A needle and wire will be inserted into the vein by your doctor. Over the wire, a tiny tube called a catheter is inserted into a vein. Your doctor will use a catheter and other specialized equipment to inject energy into the vein. The tissue inside the vein gets harmed by the energy. Laser or radio waves, known as radiofrequency energy, are the sources of heat and energy.

In most cases, the procedure is completed in your doctor’s office. Wearing eye protection is possible. Medication makes you feel nothing and help you relax. Less than an hour is needed for the process.

You can have a few bruises running the length of the treated vein after this procedure. A bandage may be applied to the area by your doctor.

A crucial component of your treatment and security is follow-up care: 

Make sure to schedule and keep all appointments, and call your doctor if something seems off. Knowing the results of your tests and keeping track of the medications you take are also wise decisions.

References:

https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/valvular_disease.htm

https://www.heartandstroke.ca/heart-disease/conditions/valvular-heart-disease

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-valve-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20353727

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/heart-valve-diseases

https://myhealth.alberta.ca/Health/aftercareinformation/pages/conditions.aspx?hwid=abk7082