There are many types of heart valve disease, and to get the proper diagnosis and treatment, one must be thoroughly examined by a doctor.
Heart valve disease is defined as the dysfunction of any of the heart’s valves. The heart valve is part of the four chambers of your heart. It is responsible for maintaining the one-way flow of blood through your heart.
Heart valve disease occurs when the valves of the heart do not function the way that they should, and cause the blood to flow backwards. A heart valve disorder can affect any of the four valves in your heart.
How does the heart work?
The heart has valves, which flap open and close every time your heart beats. This allows the blood to flow through the heart’s upper and lower chambers, and then to the rest of the body.
The heart has four valves:
- Aortic valve. This valve is located between the left ventricle and left aorta.
- Mitral valve. Situated between the left atrium and the left ventricle.
- Pulmonary valve. One of the valves located between the right ventricle and the pulmonary artery.
- Tricuspid valve. Situated between the right atrium and the right ventricle.
If the heart valve is functioning properly, the blood flows forward freely, with no backward leakage. On the other hand, when the heart valve does not function properly, this causes the backflow of blood, also known as a heart valve disease.
Heart valve disease can be congenital (present from birth) or some may acquire the condition later on. At times, the cause of the heart valve disease is unknown.
Some of the potential causes for heart valve disease, aside from congenital factors, could be damage to the heart from a heart attack, metabolic disorders from high blood cholesterol, or a tumor in the heart. There are also certain medications that may contribute to the development of the different types of heart valve disease, but these are not conclusive.
What are the types of heart valve disease?
Heart valve disease does not always cause symptoms, but when they do, they may manifest in the following:
- Chest pain
- Fatigue or weakness
- Shortness of breath
- Swelling of the abdomen, ankles, or feet
There are different types of heart valve disease and they affect the functions of the heart in different ways:
Congenital heart valve disease
This is a form of valve disease that most often affects the aortic or pulmonic valve. Here, the valves may not have formed properly. They could be the wrong size, have leaflets that are not correctly attached, or are malformed.
Acquired valve disease
This is defined as previously healthy, normal valves that are no longer able to function well. This is one of the types of heart valve disease that may be caused by changes in the structure of the heart valve due to infections from rheumatic fever or endocarditis.
Valvular stenosis or valvular insufficiency
Valvular stenosis is one of the types of heart valve disease where there develops a narrowing of the heart valve. In this case, the heart valve does not fully open. The cause of this is stiff or fused leaflets.
When this happens, the heart has to work very hard to get the blood to flow through the leaflets. This can develop in any of the valves and are aptly named tricuspid stenosis, pulmonic stenosis, mitral stenosis, or aortic stenosis.
This is also known as “leaky valve”. This occurs when the valve is not able to close tightly. When the valve does not close, some of the blood flows back, causing less blood to flow to the rest of the body.
Same with stenosis, any of the valves can become affected and these conditions are called tricuspid regurgitation, pulmonary regurgitation, mitral regurgitation, or aortic regurgitation.
This occurs when a valve slips out of place, causing the valve flaps or leaflets to not close properly.
Different types of heart valve disease can be classified into three categories: mild, moderate, or severe.
Moderate is when there is an enlargement of the heart, while severe conditions can lead to heart failure, wherein the heart can no longer pump enough blood to meet the demands of the body for oxygen.
The good thing is that a lot of the different types of heart valve disease can be managed with medication or surgery to repair or replace the valve.
Many people — regardless of the type of heart valve disease they may have — are able to lead full lives. Having this does not mean that you are limited in terms of movement or life choices. With the help of your doctor and medical team, you can learn to better manage your heart condition and live a full, normal life.
Learn more about heart valve disease, here.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.