Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

How Do You Know If You Have A Heart Valve Problem?

The American Heart Association pegs that around 6 million people in the United States alone suffer from heart valve problems. A heart valve problem develops due to a disease or an infection, which disrupts the functionality of the heart valves.

Heart Valves

The human heart has four valves at the exit of the four chambers. These valves are one-way direction control valve and ensure that the blood pumped by the heart flow only in the forward direction. The flow of blood occurs from the right atria to the left and into the ventricles by passing through the tricuspid and mitral valves. When the ventricles are full, both the tricuspid and mitral valves shut thereby preventing backward flow of the blood.

Due to the contraction of ventricles in this process, the aortic and pulmonic valves open and the blood pumps out into the ventricles towards the lungs through the pulmonary artery, the aorta, and the body. When the contraction relaxes, pulmonary, and aortic valves shut and prevent blood from flowing into the ventricles. The process repeats causing the blood to flow through the heart to the body and lungs.

How Do You Know If You Have A Heart Valve Problem?

In many circumstances, it is not probable to determine the presence of a heart valve problem until it reaches the final stage. Lack of the existence of symptoms is the reason behind for such a condition. However, one should not rely solely on the symptoms to consider the severity of the valve disease. For instance, an individual may not have any sign even if one is suffering from severe valve disease. Nonetheless, the following symptoms will be helpful in making an appointment for diagnosis:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Uncomfortable sensation in the chest
  • Discomfort in the abdominal region
  • Increased palpitations
  • Swelling of abdomen, feet, and ankles
  • A sudden increase in weight.

Diagnosis

It is possible for the specialist to identify the presence of a heart valve disease by considering the symptoms, performing a physical examination, and carrying out screening tests. The physical examination involves the doctor to hear the sound of the heart. Doctor also checks the lungs to look for retention of fluid, which tells the doctor that the heart is not functioning appropriately.

Visual examination of the body will also help the doctor to find the clues related to the circulation of blood and functionality of the organs. After completing this, the doctor refers to diagnostic tests that include:

The doctor repeats the tests over a period to understand the progress of the valve disease. Depending on this, one will provide the required treatment that helps in reducing the disease.

Treatment

The treatment for a heart valve disease relies on the severity of the condition. The three essential goals of the treatment are - protecting the heart from further damage, reducing the symptoms, and replacing the damaged valves.

The diagnostic reports help the doctor to identify the type, location, and the extent of damage to the valve. Depending on the structure of the heart, the age of the patient, and the lifestyle, the doctor can opt for a surgical procedure to improve the situation. A surgery includes replacement of the damaged valve. The surgeon can choose between open heart surgery or minimally invasive surgery, which again depends on the criticality/risks involved in the operation.

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Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: March 21, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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