What Happens If You Have A Heart Valve Problem?
A heart valve problem occurs when one of the valves of the heart does not function properly due to leakage or damage. Damage of the heart valve severely affects the blood flow in the body. Damage of the heart valve can be of two types-
Stenosis Of The Valve: Damaged heart valve where it does not open properly. This limits the flow of blood throughout the body thereby creating a pressure on the heart to pump the blood harder so that it can pass the narrowing forcefully. Such a condition is called stenosis of the valve.
Leaky Valve Or Valve Regurgitation: Another form of damage occurs when the heart valve has some form of leakage, due to which it cannot close properly. Due to the leakage, the blood may flow backward. Such a condition again puts strain on the heart, as it has to pump extra blood to compensate the blood's volume. This form of heart valve damage is called leaky valve or valve regurgitation.
What are the Bodily Changes That Occur Due To Heart Valve Problem?
Heart Murmur: The main problem which the patient has is irregular heartbeat often referred to as the heart murmur. This can be heard by a stethoscope.
Heart Failure: Patients may be prone to heart failure due to the valve damage.
Tiredness: The patient may feel unusually tired and dizzy.
Swelling of Body Parts: There may be swelling in various body parts, most commonly in the ankles and feet. It can also be in the abdomen and neck area.
Fainting and Chest Pain: The patient may have a risk of fainting and may complain of chest pain.
Weight Gain: The patient may gain weight which cannot be explained by any other reason.
How Can Problems With Heart Valve Be Diagnosed?
Initially, a physical exam is done to check for the symptoms of heart valve damage. If symptoms like heart murmur and water retention are seen by the doctor, may prescribe tests to confirm the diagnosis.
EKG: The doctor may ask the patient to go for an echocardiogram or EKG, which is the simplest form of test detecting and recording the electrical activity of the heart. Most of the times, it is a part of the physical exam done in the doctor's chamber.
X-ray: Chest X-ray is another method, which may help to show up the sections of the heart that has been enlarged due to fluid or plaque deposition. It helps in the detection of the type and the intensity of the valve defect.
Stress Test: A test called the stress test help in showing the working of the heart when its activity is increased. The images of the patient's heart are taken while the patient exercises. The working of the heart increases this way. Any abnormalities may be detected in this test.
Cardiac Catheterization: Cardiac catheterization is another minimally invasive procedure to detect heart valve blockage or back flow of blood due to leakage. It is done by introducing a contrast dye in the blood vessels of the patient and taking images of such vessels.
MRI: In some cases, cardiac MRI may be recommended to get a detailed report of the working of the heart along with it valves.