Blood flows in one direction around the heart and the rest of the body, like a one-way traffic system. Your heart valves decide which way your blood goes. They have small flaps called leaflets, which open and close like doors with every heartbeat to keep blood from going backwards.
Valvular heart disease occurs when heart valves, including the aortic, mitral, tricuspid, or pulmonary valves, are damaged or not working correctly.
Types of valvular heart disease
Two primary categories can cause heart valve diseases:
- Regurgitation (valve leakage): When the valve(s) does not close entirely, blood flows in the opposite direction through the valve; This decreases forward blood flow and can lead to heart volume overload.
- Stenosis (valve narrowing): When a valve’s opening gets constricted, it restricts blood flow from the ventricles or atria. The heart must pump with greater energy to transport blood past the narrowed or rigid (stenotic) valve(s).
Causes of valvular heart disease
There are multiple causes of valvular heart disease, including congenital disorders (being born with it), infections, degenerative conditions (age-related deterioration), and conditions associated with other types of heart disease.
- Congenital valvular heart disease is a genetic defect in which a heart valve may be the incorrect size or form, or its valve flaps may not be adequately attached to the heart.
- Bicuspid aortic valve disease is a birth abnormality that impacts the aortic valve.
- Marfan syndrome is an inherited condition that affects the connective tissue in the body. Marfan syndrome patients may experience mitral valve prolapse and aortic valve regurgitation.
Other conditions that may cause valvular heart disease include the following:
- Rheumatic disease.
- Infective (bacterial) endocarditis.
- Coronary artery disease.
- Damage to the heart muscle from a heart attack.
- Other diseases of the heart muscle (cardiomyopathy).
- Metabolic disorders such as high blood cholesterol.
- Heart tumors.
- Heart valve infection.
- Syphilis (sexually-transmitted infection).
Heart valve disease treatment
In some scenarios, your doctor may only wish to observe the heart valve condition for a while. Other alternatives include medication or surgery to repair or replace the valve. Depending on the type of heart valve disease, possible treatments include:
Although medications are not a solution for heart valve disease, they can often alleviate symptoms. These medications may involve:
- Beta-blockers, digoxin, and calcium channel blockers can assist in reducing the symptoms of heart valve dysfunction by regulating the heart rate and helping to prevent irregular cardiac rhythms.
- Medications to regulate blood pressure, drain extra fluid from the body or relax blood vessels.
Surgical intervention may be required to repair or replace the defective valve (s). Surgery might involve:
- Heart valve repair surgery: entails remodeling damaged valve tissue to ensure adequate valve function or inserting prosthetic rings to narrow a dilated valve effectively.
- Heart valve replacement surgery: When heart valves are significantly distorted or damaged, it may be necessary to replace them.
- Replacement valves may either consist of tissue (biologic) valves, including animal valves and donated human aortic valves, or mechanical valves composed of metal, plastic, or another synthetic material. However, certain valve illnesses, such as aortic valve stenosis and mitral valve regurgitation, can be treated without surgery.
It’s important to note that balloon valvuloplasty is a less invasive alternative to valve repair or replacement surgeries. In this procedure, your surgeon inserts a hollow tube (catheter) guided into the heart through a blood vessel in the groin. A deflated balloon is attached to the catheter’s tip and put into the constricted heart valve with it. The valve is stretched open by inflating the balloon, which is deflated and then removed. Patients with pulmonary or aortic stenosis may benefit from this surgery.
Book your appointment at Novomed today!
If you have any concerns about valvular heart disease, make an appointment with our experienced Cardiologist in Dubai by calling toll-free 800 (NOVO) 6686 or fill out the booking form below.