Heart valve disease may occur when one or more of your heart valves do not function well. The heart has mainly four valves: the tricuspid, mitral, pulmonary, and aortic valves.
These valves comprise of the tissue flaps that close and open with each heartbeat. These flaps make sure that the blood flows in the right direction throughout your heart's four chambers and then to the rest of your body.
Heart valves can have three basic kinds of problems: stenosis, regurgitation, and atresia.
Stenosis occurs when the flaps of a valve stiffen, thicken or fuse together. This prevents the heart valve from opening fully. As a result, there is not enough blood to flows through the valve.
Regurgitation, or backflow, occurs when a valve doesn't close tightly. Then the blood leaks back into the chambers and not flowing forward through the heart or into the arteries. Some valves may have both stenosis and the backflow problems
Atresia occurs when a heart valve lacks an opening for the blood to pass through.
Some people have heart valve disease since birth, while others may acquire it later in life. Heart valve disease that develops since birth is known as congenital heart valve disease. Congenital heart valve disease often involves aortic or pulmonary valves that do not form properly. Then there is another disease that is acquired over the period of time called as Acquired heart valve disease usually, involves mitral or aortic valves.
Heart conditions and other disorders, rheumatic fever, age-related changes, or infections can result in acquired heart valve disease. These factors change the flexibility or shape of the normal heart valves.
The causes of congenital heart valve disease are not known. It mainly occurs before birth as the heart is still forming.
There are certain conditions that can distort and stretch the heart valves. These conditions include:
Damage and scar tissue due to an injury to the heart or a heart attack .
Atherosclerosis in the aorta. This is a condition where a waxy substance called plaque gets builds up inside the arteries. The main artery ‘aorta’ that carries oxygen-rich blood to the whole body.
The main signs of the heart valve disease are the unusual heartbeat sound known as the heart murmur. Your doctor can even hear a heart murmur with the use of a stethoscope. Other common symptoms and signs of heart valve disease are related to heart failure, which the heart valve disease can cause, they include:
Swelling in your ankles, legs, feet, abdomen, and the neck veins
Shortness of breath when you physically exert yourself or when you're lying down to rest
The heart valve disease can cause you chest pain that may only happen when you physically exert yourself. You also may notice a racing, fluttering or irregular heartbeat. Some types of heart valve disease, such as mitral or aortic valve stenosis, can cause you to faint or dizziness.
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