Your heart has these four valves:
- the tricuspid valve, which is located between the right atrium and the right ventricle
- the pulmonary valve, which is located between the right ventricle and the pulmonary artery
- the mitral valve, which is located between the left atrium and the left ventricle
- the aortic valve, which is located between the left ventricle and the aorta
Blood flows from the right and left atria through the tricuspid and mitral valves, which open to allow blood to flow into the right and left ventricles. These valves then close to prevent blood from flowing back into the atria.
Once the ventricles have filled with blood, they begin to contract, forcing the pulmonary and aortic valves to open. Blood then flows to the pulmonary artery and aorta. The pulmonary artery carries deoxygenated blood from the heart to the lungs. The aorta, which is the body’s largest artery, carries oxygen-rich blood to the rest of your body.
The heart valves work by ensuring that blood flows in a forward direction and doesn’t back up or cause leakage. If you have a heart valve disorder, the valve isn’t able to do this job properly. This can be caused by a leakage of blood, which is called regurgitation, a narrowing of the valve opening, which is called stenosis, or a combination of regurgitation and stenosis.
Some people with a heart valve disorder may not have any symptoms, while others may experience conditions like strokes, heart attacks, and blood clots if the heart valve disorder goes untreated.
Symptoms of heart valve disorders
Symptoms of heart valve disorders vary depending on the severity of the disorder. Usually the presence of symptoms indicates that the disorder is affecting blood flow. Many individuals with mild or moderate heart valve disorders don’t experience any symptoms. However, signs and symptoms may include:
- shortness of breath
- heart palpitations
- chest pain
- a cough
- water retention, which can cause swelling in the lower extremities and abdomen
- pulmonary edema, which is caused by excess fluid in the lungs
How are heart valve disorders treated?
Treatments for heart valve disorders depend on the severity of the disorder and symptoms. Most doctors suggest beginning with conservative treatments. These include:
- getting consistent medical supervision
- quitting smoking if you smoke
- following a healthy diet
Medications that are usually prescribed are:
- beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers, which help control heart rate and blood flow
- diuretics to reduce fluid retention
- vasodilators, which are drugs that open or dilate blood vessels
You may need surgery if your symptoms increase in severity. This may include a heart valve repair using one of the following:
- your own tissue
- an animal valve if you’re having a biological valve replacement
- a donated valve from another person
- a mechanical, or artificial, valve
Valvuloplasty may also be used to treat stenosis. During valvuloplasty, your doctor inserts a small balloon into your heart where it’s inflated slightly. The inflation increases the size of the opening in the valve, and then the balloon is removed.
What is the outlook for people with heart valve disorders?
Your outlook will depend on what heart valve disorder you have and how severe it is. Some heart valve disorders only require routine monitoring, while others require surgery.
Talk to your doctor about any symptoms you have that you’re concerned about, and make sure you schedule routine checkups with your doctor. This will make it more likely that your doctor will discover any potentially serious conditions in the early stages.
- Type of service
- Cost of service
- Starting from $2500
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