A leaky heart valve is a condition where the valves fail to function to their actual potential. The reasons for the failure to function appropriately are numerous. A leaky heart valve is the result of an accident or due to genetic factors. The common factors include high blood pressure and heart attacks.
Heart Valve Disease
Heart valve disease is a situation where the four valves – pulmonary, aortic, tricuspid, and mitral, fail to function as they should. A heart valve disease affects the aortic and the mitral valves. However, an individual can suffer from dysfunction of other valves too. The heart has four chambers, and all the four valves ensure that the blood pumped by the heart does not make an entry back into the chamber.
All the valves contain flaps or leaflets that open and close to allow the blood to flow only in forward direction. The occurrence of the disease disrupts the operation, making it hard for the heart to operate smoothly. For instance, the disease causes stiffness of the flaps, making it hard for them to close completely. In such cases, there is leakage, and the heart functions hard and excessively to fulfill the gap. In such situations, back flow occurs leading to heart failure.
A leaky heart valve problem, in a few cases, is the result of inherent (occurs right from birth). In such cases, the patient experiences the symptoms earlier than those who acquire due to accidents or over a period in their lifespan.
Detection of Heart Valve Problem
Detection of the leaky heart valve problem is possible with the help of diagnostic tests such as MRI scan, CT scan, X-ray, angiogram, and echocardiogram. Along with these, the doctor performs a physical analysis to arrive at a conclusion related to the situation. The following are the symptoms experienced by the patient when the situation turns to severe from moderate:
- Loss of consciousness
- Chest pain
- Swelling in knees, feet, and abdomen
- Dizziness or weakness
Types of Heart Valve Disease
The following are the types of heart valve diseases:
Valvular Stenosis: Stenosis is a condition where the flaps or the leaflets of the valve become stiff and operate out of the normal. Due to this, the heart functions strenuously to pump the needed blood. It places a lot of pressure on the heart and leads to heart failure along with other problems. The occurrence could be on any of the valves and leads to pulmonary stenosis, aortic stenosis, mitral stenosis, and tricuspid stenosis.
Valvular Insufficiency: Insufficiency is a scenario where the flaps fail to close completely. Because of this nature, doctors also refer to the condition as a leaky valve. As there is a loss of blood, the body does not receive its share of blood flow, and the heart pushes itself out of the gear to pump more blood to meet the shortage. It leads to abnormal functioning and failure of the heart. It can occur on any of the valves leading to a leaky aortic valve, leaky mitral valve, leaky pulmonary valve, and leaky tricuspid valve.
The treatment varies from one patient to another. And, not everyone can visit the operation theater to replace the leaky heart valve. Operating for replacement of the valve is risky, and therefore, the doctor considers all the variations to arrive at a conclusion. If detected in the early stage and the operation is possible, the surgeon will choose between the mechanical valve or biological valve. Both the replacements have their share of advantages and disadvantages. Speaking with the surgeon provides additional information.