Valvular Heart Disease

Valvular heart disease (VHD) is a medical condition that affects the heart's valves. The aortic valve, pulmonary valve, tricuspid valve, and mitral valve are the four valves that make up the heart. These valves are essential in ensuring that blood flows through the heart chambers in one direction. When one or more of these valves are damaged or dysfunctional, the heart's blood flow is distorted and valvular heart disease develops.

Valvular heart disease can be divided into two categories:

  1. Stenosis: The narrowing of a heart valve, which limits blood flow through it, is referred to as stenosis. Valve stenosis is frequently brought on by calcium deposits, scarring, and congenital abnormalities. Chest pain, breathlessness, and fatigue may result from the heart's inability to pump blood effectively due to the narrowed valve. Aortic stenosis, pulmonary stenosis, tricuspid stenosis, and mitral stenosis are the four primary kinds of valve stenosis.
  2. Regurgitation (Insufficiency): Regurgitation, often referred to as insufficiency or incompetence, happens when a heart valve malfunctions and blood can leak backward (regurgitate) into the chamber it just left. As a result, the heart may have to work harder to pump blood, which may result in symptoms like fatigue, heart palpitations, and shortness of breath. The four most common types of valve regurgitation are aortic regurgitation, pulmonary regurgitation, tricuspid regurgitation, and mitral regurgitation.

The following list of factors can cause valvular heart disease:

  • Congenital abnormalities: Some individuals are born with abnormal valves.
  • Degeneration with age: Heart valve stenosis or regurgitation can develop as a result of the natural aging process.
  • Infections (like endocarditis): Bacterial infections may cause heart valve damage.
  • Rheumatic fever: Untreated strep throat may cause this inflammatory condition, which could harm the heart valves.
  • Other conditions: The valves may be impacted by certain diseases including connective tissue abnormalities.
  • Heart attacks: A heart attack can harm the heart's muscle and valves.

The diagnosis typically involves a combination of physical examination, imaging tests (such as echocardiography), and occasionally cardiac catheterization to evaluate the severity of valve disease and choose the most appropriate course of action.

Depending on how severe the problem is, there are several treatment options available, including:

  • Medications: Medications can help treat symptoms and enhance heart function.
  • Valve repair: Damaged valves may occasionally be surgically fixed in order to regain their proper function.
  • Valve replacement: Replacement of the damaged valve with a mechanical or biological valve may be necessary if repair is not an option.
  • Less invasive procedures: Certain cases can be treated with less invasive techniques like balloon valvuloplasty or transcatheter valve replacement (TAVR).

To properly treat their condition and avoid complications, people with valvular heart disease require routine follow-up care and monitoring. Depending on the patient's specific condition and needs, treatment recommendations should be made in consulation with a cardiologist or a cardiac surgeon.
 

Subtopics

Epidemiology of Valvular Heart Disease | Cellular and Molecular Basis of Calcific Aortic Valve Disease | Clinical and Genetic Risk Factors for Calcific Valve Disease | Evaluation of Valvular Heart Disease by Cardiac Magnetic Resonance and Computed Tomography | Aortic Stenosis | Aortic Regurgitation | Aortic Valve Implantation | Surgical Approach to Diseases of the Aortic Valve | Rheumatic Mitral Valve | Myxomatous Mitral Valve | Infective Endocarditis | Prosthetic Heart Valves | Valvular Heart Disease in Pregnancy

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