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Heart Valve Disease - Cause, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment and Complications

Published on Apr 20, 2022 and last reviewed on Dec 23, 2022   -  5 min read


Heart valve diseases can completely interfere with the functioning of the heart. Read this article to know more.

What Is Heart Valve Disease?

The heart is an important organ that is required for circulating blood to all the organs and tissues of the body. If there is a collapse in the circulatory system, then there are possibilities for other organs to get affected too. There are four valves in the heart that help in the healthy functioning of the pumping system. If there is any damage or medical problem in these heart valves, the heart might suffer poor functioning. The flow of the blood also gets affected. This will eventually lead to the improper opening and closing of the valves of the heart. The treatment for heart valve diseases depends on which valve is being affected. In order to replace or repair the valves of the heart, surgery might be necessary.

What Are the Valves of the Heart?

There are four valves that help in the functioning of the heart. They are:

  • Mitral Valve: It is a valve that is present between the left ventricle and left atrium. The mitral valve helps in passing the blood from the left atrium to the left ventricle. The backflow of the blood is restricted with the help of the mitral valve.

  • Tricuspid Valve: It is present between the right atrium and the right ventricle. The backflow of the blood is prevented by the tricuspid valve. The healthy functioning of this valve will pass on the blood from the right atrium to the right ventricle.

  • Aortic Valve: This valve is present between the aorta and left ventricle. It allows the blood to leave the left ventricle through the aorta. It is a semilunar valve.

  • Pulmonary Valve: This valve is present between the right ventricle and pulmonary artery. It is also a semilunar valve. A healthy exchange of blood flow between the lungs and the heart is contributed by this valve.

What Are the Causes of Heart Valve Diseases?

Some patients have a problem with the valves of the heart right from birth. During adulthood, heart valve diseases can occur as a result of medical conditions and infections.

What Are the Symptoms of Heart Valve Diseases?

The various symptoms associated with heart valve diseases are:

  • Heart palpitations that are caused due to irregular heartbeats.

  • Shortness of breath.

  • Chest pain.

  • Fatigue.

  • Fainting.

  • Low or high blood pressure.

  • Dizziness.

  • Cough.

  • Leg swelling.

  • Headaches.

  • Pulmonary edema: It is caused due to high levels of fluid content in the lungs.

  • Water retention: It can lead to swelling in the abdomen and lower extremities.

What Are the Problems That Can Occur in the Heart Valves?

The common problems that can occur in the heart valves are:

  • Atresia: It is a condition in which the valve is not formed properly. There can also be a blockage in the tissue that can restrict the flow of blood between the chambers of the blood.

  • Stenosis: There is a stiffness or thickening in the walls of the heart. In some cases, fusion might also occur. This can reduce the flow of the blood through the heart valves.

  • Regurgitation: In regurgitation, there is improper closure of the valves. This can lead to the leakage of the blood. It is commonly seen in prolapse conditions.

How Is Heart Valve Disease Diagnosed?

The diseases of the heart valve can be diagnosed with the help of the following procedures.

  • Electrocardiogram: Electrocardiogram is a procedure that is helpful for recording the electrical activity of the heart. Any abnormal pattern in the rhythms can be identified in this technique. Any damages in the muscles of the heart can also be detected.

  • Echocardiogram: Echocardiogram is a non-invasive procedure in which the blockage in the valves of the heart is assessed using sound waves. An ultrasound transducer is helpful for monitoring the functions of the heart. This method is more reliable than others.

  • Chest X-ray: A chest X-ray is recommended for detecting any enlargement in the heart. The images of other organs and bones can also be identified.

  • Transesophageal Echocardiogram: Transesophageal echocardiogram is a procedure that involves passing a transducer that functions by ultrasound. The transducer is small and is passed down to the esophagus. The images of the heart chambers and the valves are created with the help of the sound waves. The advantage of a transesophageal echocardiogram is that the images of the lungs and ribs do not interfere with the actual required image.

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): Magnetic resonance imaging is the method in which the magnetic and radio frequencies are combined along with the computer system for producing detailed images of the body and its organ.

What Are the Treatment Options for Heart Valve Diseases?

The mild problems of the heart valve can be treated with the help of medications. The complicated cases of heart valve diseases can be treated by surgical methods.

Medications: The symptoms of heart valve diseases can be relieved by medications. These medications require recommendations from a doctor. The prescribed medicines for heart valve diseases are:

  • Calcium channel blockers and beta-blockers are the most recommended medicines for controlling the abnormal rhythms of the heart.

  • The increased blood pressure can be controlled by diuretics. Vasodilator medicines help in relaxing the muscles of the heart.

Surgical Methods: The goal of the surgical method is to replace the valve that is not functioning well or repairing the destructed valve. Repairing the heart valve is more suitable than the replacement of the complete valve. The replacement of the heart valves requires the placement of plastic, metal, and other artificial materials.

The most successful method is a surgical balloon valvuloplasty. It is the most recommended method for aortic stenosis.

What Are the Complications of Heart Valve Diseases?

The complications of heart valve diseases are:

  • Heart failure.

  • Blood clots.

  • Stroke.

  • Heart rhythm abnormalities.

  • Death.

Frequently Asked Questions


How to Prevent Heart Valve Disease?

Heart valve disease can be prevented by following a healthy and balanced diet, regular workout sessions, maintaining a healthy body weight and an appropriate cholesterol level, incorporating a healthy routine, taking proper oral care, having antibiotics prior to dental treatments, surgeries, and invasive tests.


What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Heart Valve Disease?

The most common manifestations of heart valve disease are:
Pain in the chest.
Palpitations due to irregular heartbeats.
Abnormal blood pressure, depending on which valve is involved.
Shortness of breath.
Abdominal pain caused by liver enlargement in case of tricuspid valve malfunction.
Swelling in the legs.


Which Drugs Can Lead to Heart Valve Disease?

The drugs that can cause heart valve disease are:
Anorexigens (Fenfluramine, Dexfenfluramine, and their active metabolite Norfenfluramine).
Dopamine agonists (Pergolide and Cabergoline).
MDMA (3,4-Methyl​enedioxy​-methamphetamine).
Ergot alkaloids (Ergotamine, Methysergide, and its active metabolite Methylergonovine).


Which Is the Commonly Found Heart Valve Disease?

The most common heart valve conditions are mitral valve prolapse, regurgitation, and stenosis.


Is It Possible to Cure a Heart Valve Disease?

The treatment of a heart valve disease depends on the occurring disease. It includes medicines like beta-blockers, diuretics, and vasodilators; surgeries such as heart valve repair, heart valve replacement, and balloon valvuloplasty (an intervention used to expand a stenotic or stiffed heart valve by using a catheter and balloon inflation).


How Can Bleeding Gums Cause Heart Valve Disease?

Bleeding gums is a sign of gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and periodontitis (inflammation of the gums and the bone). The causative bacteria from the mouth reach blood vessels in other parts of the body and can cause inflammation and damage in the blood vessels, tiny blood clots, heart attack, and stroke.


How Can Poor Nutrition Lead to a Heart Valve Disease?

An unhealthy diet can be a risk factor for heart valve disease as high salt (salt contains sodium and chloride) intake leads to hypertension (high blood pressure), which increases the chances of heart valve disease and stroke.


How Is a Heart Valve Disease Diagnosed?

A heart valve disease is diagnosed by investigations like echocardiography, electrocardiogram (ECG), cardiac MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), chest X-ray, exercise tests like treadmill test, and cardiac catheterization (in rare cases).


Is Heart Valve Disease a Life-Threatening Condition?

Heart valve disease can turn into a life-threatening condition if left untreated.


What Is the Common Age of Having a Heart Valve Disease?

A heart valve disease can be congenital or may occur later in life due to infections and other heart conditions.


Is Life Expectancy Affected by a Heart Valve Replacement?

Yes, a heart valve replacement tends to decrease the life expectancy of an individual.


Does Honey Have Any Effect on Heart Valves?

Honey is good for heart health as the antioxidants in honey have beneficial effects on the heart, like increasing the blood flow to the heart and lowering the chances of blood clot formation.


Is Exercise Helpful in Leaky Heart Valve Cases?

Mild to moderate exercise like walking is beneficial for leaky heart valves, but high-intensity workouts should be avoided.


Can Stress Lead to Heart Valve Issues?

Yes, stress plays a significant role in causing heart valve disease. Even minor stress can trigger heart issues like poor blood flow to the heart muscle, and chronic stress increases the risk of stroke.


Which Foods Are Beneficial for Heart Valves?

The foods good for a healthy heart valve are:
Green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, and collard greens.
Whole grains.
Fatty fish and fish oil.
Dark chocolate.
Seeds such as flax seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc.
Olive oil.
Green tea.


What Can Be Done to Strengthen a Weak Heart Valve?

A weak heart valve can be strengthened by eating a healthy diet, having fish oil, maintaining proper weight, getting adequate sleep, doing exercise, meditation, and good oral hygiene.


What Are the Consequences of Improper Heart Valve Functioning?

Improper heart valve functioning can lead to regurgitation, stenosis, and atresia.


Is It Possible to Repair a Heart Valve Without Surgery?

The heart valve can be repaired with a minimally invasive procedure called MitraClip (mitral valve clip is used to repair a damaged mitral valve), which improves the functioning of the heart in cases of mitral regurgitation.


Who Is More Prone to a Heart Valve Disease?

Older adults above 65 years of age are at higher risk of developing heart valve disease.

Article Resources

Last reviewed at:
23 Dec 2022  -  5 min read




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