How Serious Is a Leaky Heart Valve?
Leaky heart valve is a condition that can lead to other health issues. The seriousness of the problem solely depends on how much the problem interferes with the normal blood flow from heart. In most of the cases, the problem goes unnoticed until it starts showing health problems. The problem can be treated by replacement/repair surgery for leaky heart valve or medication.
What Leaky Heart Valve Mean?
Human heart is made of four valves, pulmonic valve, aortic valve, tricuspid valve, and mitral valve. These valves comprise of flaps that opens in regular interval enabling normal flow of blood in one direction. The valves then close to prevent backward flow of blood. Other than mitral valve rest all the three valves have three flaps, mitral has two valves.
All the four valves are prone to become leaky. After the heart squeezes and blood moves forward, some blood leaks through these valves. This leaky heart valve condition is known as valve regurgitation.
How it is Diagnosed?
Doctors can diagnose leaky heart valve in the following ways:
- Use of stethoscope to listen the abnormal sound coming from heart beat.
- Considering the echocardiogram report obtained from heart ultrasound.
- The type of symptoms experienced by the patient and the report obtained from echocardiogram and physical examination helps in identifying how serious is the problem of leaky heart valve.
Symptoms of Leaky Heart Valve
As such there are no significant symptoms of leaky heart valve. Usually, majority of individual suffer from one or multiple leaky heart valves. If the leakage is severe then following symptoms are displayed by the patient:
- Swelling in legs because of fluid retention
- Breathlessness while performing any heavy activity
- Irregular heartbeat
Among all aortic valve leakage is the most common problem found in majority of people. Let’s take a look on some of the significant causes of aortic valve leakage.
- Marfan syndrome
- Condition when heart valve have two flaps instead of three
- Infection caused in the valve
Patients suffering from aortic valve leakage are often given medication for controlling high blood pressure and heart failure. In case the condition of the patient has become severe and has crossed the scope of medicine, then in this case doctors suggest surgery. Surgeons examine the condition of the patient in detail and then based on the observation either repair the existing valve or completely replace the leaky heart valve with an artificial valve. Artificial valves are either made of animal tissue or are obtained from human body.
Now let’s take a look on some of the prime causes of leaky mitral valve:
- Irregular opening and closing of valve
- Cardiomyopathy caused because of either hypertension or coronary artery disease
The most interesting thing about leaky mitral valve is that most of the doctors do not recommend any treatment for this heart problem. Instead, they keep the person under observation; they also do not prescribe medication to patient for regular use until the condition becomes really severe leading to heart failure.
There are people who may suffer from slight leakage in the tricuspid valve; however, experts say that leaky tricuspid valve does not cause any harm to the patient and so does not require regular treatment and medication. Hypertension and pulmonary disease are the main causes of tricuspid regurgitation. Swelling in different parts of the body is a significant symptom of tricuspid regurgitation.