What is Meant by Heart Valve Defect?
A heart valve defect is referred to a condition in which the valves of the heart either do not open or close properly causing interruption in the flow of blood from the heart to different organs of the body(1). The heart contains four valves and a heart valve defect may occur in one or more valves of the heart(1).
What are the Risk Factors for Heart Valve Defect?
While anyone can have a heart valve defect, it is usually seen in people with certain risk factors, which include but not limited to age; where an older the individual is the more are the chances of a heart defect(2); infections affecting the heart also are a risk factor for heart valve defects(2); an individual having a history of cardiac issues is more likely at risk for having a heart valve defect(2).
How Difficult is it to Treat Heart Valve Defect?
Treating a heart valve defect depends on the type of the valve and the extent of damage. While most cases can be addressed conservatively, at times surgery may be required if the heart valve is severely damaged to repair it; and if required replace it with an artificial one(1).
How Common is Heart Valve Defect in Patients With Thyroid Disease?
Coming to the question as to whether heart valve defects are common in patients with thyroid diseases, then it is a proven fact and has been observed that many people with thyroid issues have been noted to suffer from defective heart valves(3, 4).
The most common form of heart valve defect seen in patients with thyroid disease is Mitral Valve Prolapse(5, 6). This is seen especially in those people with autoimmune form of thyroid disorders like Grave’s Disease or Hashimoto Thyroiditis(4). In Mitral Valve Prolapse, the mitral valve does not completely close resulting in the blood leaking into the left atrium.
This heart valve defect, that is mitral valve prolapse, is seen to occur in people under the age of 45 in about 15% of cases, but is seen mostly in females who are abnormally thin. Grave’s Disease on the other hand occurs when there is an enlargement of the thyroid gland. It gradually completely destroys the gland resulting in complete removal of the thyroid.
Studies have shown that around 30% of people with Grave’s Disease had Mitral Valve Prolapse while 25% of people with Hashimoto Thyroiditis had this condition. Approximately 10% of people with goiter also were shown to have mitral valve prolapse.
In summary, even though mitral valve prolapse is a benign medical condition, it is mandatory for physicians to look for this particular heart valve defect especially in patients who have a known history of autoimmune thyroid diseases; because if that is the case then such patients will require preventive antibiotics before any dental or surgical procedure.
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