Heart Valve Diseases: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment


Heart Valve Diseases: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Heart valve disease is one of the most widely known life-threatening diseases worldwide. As you may know, the healthy functioning of valves determines a healthy heart. In this condition, one or more heart valves stop functioning normally. This dysfunction prevents the normal blood flow from the heart to the rest of the body. As a result, the patient becomes the victim of heart valve disease. This is completely  unexpected and can happen to anyone. The patient who suffers from this disease always requires urgent medical attention. If the symptoms of this disease are overlooked, this can be risky for the patient’s life. 

This article gives you a comprehensive overview of your heart’s health, types of heart valve diseases, their symptoms, causes, and treatments. Let’s know more about this condition to prevent future occurrences. But before digging deeper, let’s know how our heart functions. 

How does a Heart Work?

Let us first understand how a healthy heart works in a simplified manner. With every heartbeat, our heart valves open and close. They allow blood to flow in one direction through the heart's atrium (i.e. upper chamber) and ventricle (i.e. lower chambers). The following four valves function to keep your heart fit:

  • Mitral Valve: lies between the left upper chamber (atrium) and the left lower chamber (ventricle).
  • Tricuspid valve: lies between the right atrium and the right ventricle
  • Pulmonary valve: lies between the pulmonary artery and the right ventricle.
  • Aortic valve: lies between the aorta and the left ventricle.

When the atrium contracts the tricuspid valve and mitral valve open their mouths to flow blood from the atrium to the ventricle. When the ventricle fills itself with blood, the tricuspid valve and mitral valve shut themselves. This prevents the flow of blood back into the ventricle. Similarly, when the ventricle contracts, the blood flows out from the heart to the pulmonary valve and aorta via the pulmonary artery and aortic valve. Finally, the low-oxygenated blood reaches the lungs to get oxygenated again via the pulmonary artery. Once it becomes oxygenated, it flows back to the heart through pulmonary veins. On the flip side, the aorta supplies the oxygen-rich blood to the other parts of the body. 

Types of Heart Valve Diseases

Although there are many types, some of the most frequently encountered types of heart valve diseases are: 

Valvular Stenosis

Valvular Stenosis occurs when the mouth of a valve becomes narrow due to its thickening or stiffening. If it is a little narrow, it will not create any kind of harm. But if it is too narrow to affect the blood flow into your heart, it is seen as a serious health issue. In this case, the flow of blood also gets obstructed. 

Valvular Regurgitation

This type of disease occurs due to the leaky valves. Simply put, when the tricuspid valve, mitral valve, or both can’t shut themselves properly, it causes the blood to flow backwards. The treatment varies depending on the health condition of the patient and the stage of the disease.

Valvular Atresia

Valvular atresia is seen in newborn babies. It occurs when any one of the heart valves doesn’t develop correctly before birth. 

Mitral Valve Prolapse

This is also known as floppy valve syndrome or click murmur syndrome. This type of disease occurs when the mitral valve doesn’t shut itself properly, causing blood to return to the left atrium. 

Bicuspid Aortic Valve Disease

Usually, an aortic valve has three flaps. But, those patients who suffer from this condition contain two flaps in their aortic valves. This disease is a congenital disease but its symptoms don’t show up after taking birth. Some patients start seeing its first symptoms in their adulthood

Heart Valve Disease Symptoms

Symptoms of heart valve disease depend on the severity of the disease. However, some common symptoms include:

  • Heart palpitations (abnormal heartbeats)
  • Shortness of breath due to a little bit of physical activity 
  • Chest pain
  • Fainting
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Cough
  • Inflammation in the ankles, feet, or abdomen (pulmonary oedema)
  • Debility 
  • Fever if the cause of the disease is infection

Heart Valve Diseases Causes

Some common causes of heart valve disease are as follows:

  • Hypertension
  • Age-related calcium deposits in excess
  • Rheumatic fever that lasts long without treatment
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Heart failure
  • Birth defect (congenital disease)
  • Infectious endocarditis
  • Syphilis
  • Lupus
  • Degeneration of the valve tissues due to ageing
  • Thoracic aortic aneurysm 
  • Heart attack
  • Infection in heart (infectious endocarditis)

Heart Valve Diseases Treatment 

After diagnosing the patient's heart valve disease through various tests, a cardiologist may recommend the treatment based on the heart valve disease ICD. ICD-10 is used as a code to determine the name of the heart valve disease. Most commonly, the surgeons or cardiologists recommend surgery to cure the illness.

If heart valve disease is a congenital disease, the cardiologist may recommend surgery for a newborn baby without any delay. But, if the patient is suffering from valvular stenosis, the cardiologist may recommend the surgery of valvuloplasty. In this surgery, a balloon is inserted into the patient's heart where it is inflated. As a result, the mouth of the valve opens after which, the balloon is removed. 

In some cases, the surgeons feel the need to replace the heart valve with a new one. This new valve can be biological or mechanical. The new valve is sewn with a ring-shaped part of the old valve in the surgery. However, you need to undergo the same surgery after 10 or 15 years. Certain medications may also be prescribed to prevent the risk of blood clots after the surgery. 

Transcatheter aortic valve replacement is another surgical treatment that does not replace the patient's heart valve. Under this treatment, the surgeon replaces the blocked or narrowed heart valve with a catheter.

Generally, heart valve disease treatment without surgery is not possible. However, a cardiologist may recommend some medications to reduce the risk of sudden cardiac arrest or any other severe heart issue. Based on your age, health condition, and severity of the heart problem, the following heart valve disease medicines are suggested:

  • Beta-blockers and calcium chain blockers to normalise heart rate and blood flow
  • Vasodilators to dilate or open blood vessels
  • Diuretics to minimise water retention

After surgery, the cardiologist recommends some tips for a healthy lifestyle that the patient should follow strictly. The risk of developing heart valve disease always remains there for the second time. The doctor may recommend the following:

  • A balanced diet
  • No smoking/ no tobacco
  • No alcoholic beverages
  • Physical activity
  • Regular exercise
  • Meditation

Keep Your Heart Healthy with Care Health Insurance

While one may not be able to avert such medical emergencies, the significant thing is to think about how we can be financially independent to manage such risks. The expenses of heart disease diagnosis, treatment, and medications often go beyond one's capacity. However, you can buy a health insurance policy today that will provide you with comprehensive coverage to overcome such a financial crisis. One such plan is Care Heart Mediclaim offered by Care Health Insurance serves as a shield with comprehensive coverage up to 10L, against unforeseen health challenges. With multiple sum insured options ranging from 3L along with other amazing features such as ambulance cover, automatic recharge of SI, domiciliary hospitalisation etc., it ensures financial security, allowing you to navigate life's uncertainties with confidence. Try being one step ahead and secure the happiness of your family today.

>> Also Read: Types, Causes, and Treatment for the Heart Diseases

Disclaimer: The above information is for reference purposes only. Kindly consult your general physician for verified medical advice. The health insurance benefits are subject to policy terms and conditions. Refer to your policy documents for more information.

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