Valvular heart disease is a condition characterized by damage or defects to one or more of the heart’s four valves, the mitrial, aortic, tricuspid, or pulmonary.
The Valves of the Heart
The mitrial and tricuspid valves are responsible for controlling the flow of blood between the artria and ventricles, the upper and lower chambers, within the heart. Whereas, the pulmonary valve is responsible for the flow of blood from the heart to the lungs, and the aortic valve controls the blood flow between the heart and the aorta, which, in-turn, branches off to the blood vessels along the body. The mitrial and aortic valves tend to be most affected by valvular heart disease.
How Valvular Heart Disease affects these valves?
Properly functioning valves make sure blood flows with the proper pressure and in the proper direction, when it is supposed to. Valvular Heart Disease causes the valves to shrink and become too narrow to fully open, or close properly, keeping some closed completely. This interrupts the flow of blood. The walls of these valves also harden, keeping them from directing the flow of blood.
The hardened valves cause blood to backup into the adjacent chambers of the heart, while the closed valves make blood leak into the previous chamber, preventing its ability to flow at all.
The major issue with Valvular Heart Disease is that when the blood flow gets interrupted to this level, the heart compensated by working much harder. As the heart works harder, the muscles enlarge and thicken, causing the heart to lose its elasticity and efficiency. Since the blood flow is much slower and interrupted, the blood tends to clot, vastly increasing your risk of stroke and pulmonary embolism.
Contact us immediately or seek emergency medical attention if you are suffering from Valvular Heart Disease, and feel shortness of breath, palpitations, dizziness, or severe chest pains.
Diagnosis & Treatment
In order to properly identify valve issues, we must perform a number of tests. Such as:
- An electrocardiogram, or EKG.
- Stress test
- Chest X-ray
- Cardiac catheterization
In order to treat this valve issue, Dr. Kohani will mainly suggest many changes to your lifestyle. Treatment of course is specific to you and the extent of your valve disease. In addition to lifestyle changes certain antibiotics, anticoagulants, and cardiovascular medications may be prescribed. Also for more severe valves issues, valve surgery may be needed. The valves can be repaired and reopened/redirected for proper blood flow. However, in certain cases, the valves are too far gone to be repaired. In these instances, the valves can be replaced by a prosthetic valve or a bio-prosthetic, made of animal tissue.