Is a heart valve disease and a heart attack are the same? Do they come with the common symptoms? Is heart valve disease another name for describing a heart attack?
Well, if you are following these misconceptions, it’s time to create a self-awareness regarding the actual reality of ‘Heart Valve Disease’.
What is a Heart Valve Disease?
Generally, a heart valve disease occurs when one or multiple valves of the heart doesn’t open or close correctly, thus, hampering the effective blood flow through your body.
Our heart is made up of four valves (Tricuspid, Pulmonary, Mitral, Aortic) and if an instance arises wherein even one valve faces a block or damage, it can lead to the emergence of heart valve disease.
According to a study conducted, ‘An approximate of 5 million Americans are diagnosed with heart valve disease every year’.
Functioning of Heart Valve
Your heart valve lies directly at the end of your four heart chambers and it facilitates blood flow through one way. The valve ensures that the blood is being flown in the forward direction. The blood travels from the right and left atria into the ventricles via the open tricuspid and mitral valves. When the ventricles are filled, these two valves shut down automatically. This eliminates the occurrence of blood flowing backward into the atria whereas the ventricles keep on contracting. As the contraction continues, the pulmonary and the aortic valves are forced to open up and the blood gets pumped out of the ventricles. Blood from the right ventricle goes through the open pulmonic valve to the pulmonary artery, whereas, the blood from left ventricle goes through the open aortic valve to the aorta and other body parts. As the ventricles stop the contraction and initiate the relaxing procedure, the aortic and pulmonic valves get shut down. This process gets repeated constantly, thus, guiding the blood to flow continuously to the heart, lungs, etc.
The two most common types of ‘Heart Valve Disease’
- Valvular Stenosis – Happens when one of the heart valves does not open up completely because of the fused leaflets. It makes the heart to pump the blood in a harder way.
- Valvular Insufficiency – This generally happens when one of the four valves does not close firmly. It can cause blood leakage and can affect the other body parts.
Major Symptoms of Heart Valve Disease which shouldn’t be left unnoticed:
- Shortage of breath
- Irregular heartbeat
- Heart palpitations
- Edema – Swelling occurring in ankle, feet, belly
- Quick weight gain
- Chest discomfort
Here are some of the ways mentioned to get the ‘heart valve disease’ diagnosed.
- Echocardiogram – It involves the ultrasound of the heart
- Electrocardiogram – It involves the recording of the heart’s electrical activity on a graph paper
- Cardiac angiogram – Getting the X-rays done of the coronary arteries, heart valves, and heart chambers
You can also go through additional tests such as MRI scan, exercise stress echocardiogram, TEE (Trans esophageal echocardiogram), and radionuclide scans.
What can be the cause of a ‘Heart Valve Disease’?
- Rheumatic fever – It is generally caused by bacterial infection, which is left untreated.
- Endocarditis – It occurs when the bacteria enters the blood flow and attacks the heart valve by causing holes and growth.
- Congenital valve disease – Mostly affects the aortic and pulmonic valves of your heart.
- Acquired valve disease – Causes changes in the valve structure due to infection, etc.
- Bicuspid aortic valve disease – It generally affects the aortic valve and causes leakage and stiffness.
If you are experiencing any of the above-mentioned uneasiness or symptoms, visit a doctor right away.