Heart valve diseases occur when the valves located in your heart are not functioning properly. Your heart is comprised of four valves and they are responsible for guiding the flow of blood in the perfect direction.
The flawless flow of blood through the heart can be interrupted when one or more of these heart valves fail to open or close. In severe valve disease cases, they might require immediate treatment or sometimes even surgery for replacing or repairing the valves.
Heart valves function efficiently to keep the blood flowing in the perfect direction. There are two types of heart valves-
• Inflow valves that include mitral valve and tricuspid valve
• Outflow valves that include aortic valve and pulmonic valve.
Damages that can happen with heart valves
Heart valve diseases can happen when the valves are not able to function properly due to various issues.
- Valvular stenosis
When the heart valves are stiffened the valve opening could be narrowed and hinders the blood flow. This condition is called stenosis, and it prevents the valve from opening fully, weakens the heart and reduces the flawless blood flow to the parts of the body.
- Valvular prolapse
The heart valvular prolapse damages the mitral valve located between the left chambers, which may form a bulge or flaps leading to uneven or improper closure of the valve. Prolapsed valve will allow backward leakages of blood through the heart valve, disrupting the normal blood flow.
Mitral valve Regurgitation can sometimes cause backward leakage of blood, and this condition is called mitral valve regurgitation. Regurgitation is the condition where the heart valve is not properly closing, which allows the backward flow of blood. This would cause strain pressure on your heart, limits its functioning to supply oxygen-rich blood to the organs and reduces the heart's ability to efficiently pump.
Artesia is a condition where the heart valve is not fully formed, and in its place, a solid sheet of tissue is formed preventing the flow of blood between the vital heart chambers.
What happens when the heart valve is damaged?
1) The heart valve disorders make the heart stop working and pumping efficiently because there is less amount of blood flow. This factor puts immense workload and pressure on your heart resulting in cardiac arrest and other chronic heart issues.
2) There is a leakage of blood into the lungs that can cause the heart to function with immense workload and pressure. This condition can damage your heart permanently and need to be treated immediately.
3) The blood flowing backward into the lungs can make the lungs soggy causing chronic congestive heart failure. You will experience severe difficulties in breathing because of the failure of the lungs to function properly in such conditions.
Symptoms and signs of heart valve disease
Sometimes patients with valve disease may not show any signs and symptoms for a longer period. Therefore, we have shortlisted 5 vital signs of heart valve disease that should never be ignored and taken care of immediately by your healthcare professionals.
- Chest pain
Chest pain is a visible sign revealing that you are having heart failure or heart attack. This might be a very Chronic symptom that needs to be treated immediately as a medical emergency.
You should call an ambulance immediately if you experience a feeling of discomfort, pressure, tightness or heaviness on your chest and feel extremely sick or unwell. These signs should never be ignored and taken seriously instantly, to restore your heart health and recover at the earliest.
Sometimes you might feel this chest pain when you are doing some physical activities, but go away when you stop exerting yourself. Still, we recommend you seek medical assistance.
If you feel intense pain in the chest even while just lying or sitting and not doing any physical activities and also feeling extremely sick, then that indicates it is an emergency problem that needs immediate diagnosis and medical treatment.
- Breathing problems
If you are experiencing breathing difficulties and severe pain in your chest, then it could be a sign of a heart valve problem. Mitral valve regurgitation is a disease in which the mitral valve located in the heart does not tightly close, allowing backward leakages of blood in the heart.
If you have difficulty and discomfort in catching your breath, then it might be a sign of heart disorder. There may be noisy, shallow and fast breathing experienced along with chest pain. You will be having an increase in the heart pulse rate indicating interferences on the functioning of your heart. The skin around your mouth may turn slightly pale, cold and blue.
- Fatigue feeling
If your heart valves fail to perform the opening and shutting functioning properly, then you will be feeling fatigued.
However, Extremely tired and fatigued feelings may not be due to only heart valve conditions but the patient might be struggling with some other health issues as well.
You must seek proper guidance from an expert doctor, who will perform a few tests and examinations to diagnose the extreme condition of your heart. If you experience the same weak and fatigue feeling even after making certain lifestyle changes, then never ignore these signs and consult with your doctor immediately.
- Swelling of ankles
Swollen Ankles might be due to heart valve diseases. The backward flow of the bloodstream from the lungs to the heart happens when the mitral valve is damaged and releases oedema fluid into the right side of the heart, and also in the ankles and legs. Accumulation of the oedema fluid in the ankles area is severe because of the gravity effect.
You need to consult with your cardiologist and they might recommend you to practice elevation of the leg and also prescribe certain water pills such as Lasix, in severe conditions doctors will recommend surgical correction of mitral regurgitation.
- Fainting or Dizziness
Fainting causes a person to unconsciously pass out and fall to the ground. The irregular heart valve functioning could be the reason for this issue. It can cause sudden heart failures and need to be tested and treated efficiently. You will feel like your head is spinning, Dizzy and faint suddenly. Never ignore these symptoms and consult with your cardiologist for any heart valve leakages.
Heart valve complications are mostly treatable. Your Cardiologist will evaluate the damages and prescribe effective medicines to treat the signs and prevent the issues from getting worse. Surgery may be recommended to replace or repair a damaged heart valve in severe conditions.