The heart has four valves—tricuspid, pulmonary, mitral, and aortic—that maintain blood flow in the correct direction. When one of these valves doesn’t open or close correctly, blood flow can be disrupted. This is an alarming situation. As the heart struggles to pump enough blood through the body, heart failure can occur.
When a person has heart valve disease, one or more of the valves in their heart fails to open and close properly. The condition ultimately depends on the heart valve affected and the severity of the symptoms. In this blog, we’ll offer a closer look at the causes, symptoms, and treatment of heart valve disease.
1. What Causes Heart Valve Disease?
Each of the four heart valves has a flap that opens and closes once per heartbeat. In some cases, the valve flaps don’t open and close correctly at birth. This is known as congenital heart valve disease.
Infection and heart conditions can also trigger heart valve disease. Risk factors like age, history of heart infection, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and congenital heart conditions significantly increase the risk of heart valve disease.
2. The Symptoms
Heart valve disease can go undetected for years because the symptoms don’t appear until much later. When they do occur, the symptoms commonly include chest pain, a whooshing sound when the heartbeat is checked with a stethoscope, fatigue, abdominal swelling, shortness of breath, dizziness, fainting, an irregular heartbeat, swollen ankles and feet, palpitations, rapid weight gain, chest discomfort, and fever (if the condition is triggered by an infection).
3. How Can I Treat Heart Valve Disease?
Getting an accurate diagnosis of your condition when you initially experience symptoms is the first step in getting treatment. As with most conditions, early detection increases the odds of your treatment being more effective. Your cardiologist will perform a physical examination and listen to your heart using a stethoscope. They will be able to identify fluid in the lungs, heart enlargement, and heart murmur. Certain medical tests, e.g., echocardiogram, transesophageal echocardiogram, exercise stress echocardiogram, chest X-ray, cardiac catheterization, electrocardiogram, and magnetic resonance imaging, also help detect heart valve disease.
Once your condition has been diagnosed, your doctor can recommend various surgical or nonsurgical approaches. Your treatment will depend entirely on your diagnosis and your doctor’s recommendations. Make an appointment as soon as you experience symptoms, but call 911 if those symptoms are severe.
At Houston Physicians Hospital, we treat heart valve disease using medication (beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, and digoxin) and surgery. Based on your symptoms and the severity of your condition, the right treatment plan will be used accordingly.
Visit our webpage to learn more and scroll down to find a cardiologist who’s right for you. You’ll also find qualified and experienced surgical specialists who perform general surgery, back surgery, Hip Replacement Surgery Webster, neurosurgery, and other specialty surgeries.