Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

What Happens When You Have A Leaking Heart Valve?

Leaking heart valve in patients may often go unnoticed or it may cause any other mild or serious health problems. However, the severity of any leaky heart valve depends on the extent, up to which it interferes with the normal flow of blood from the heart. Treatment in this case may include surgical repair, medicines and surgical replacement of the faulty or leaky valve. Observation over the time to identify changes is a common approach to deal with the problem of leaky heart valve.

With the aim to understand leaking heart valve problem and specific conditions in detail, it is essential for you to understand about the function of heart in detail and there on, check on a few key symptoms associated with the problem.

Heart and Valves Functions

Heart consists of four different valves. These are pulmonic valve, tricuspid valve, aortic valve and mitral valve. Each valve consists of flaps, which open to allow the flow of blood in a particular direction while it moves from heart chambers. Later on, valves close to keep the flow of blood backward within the chamber they just left. Each valve incorporates three different flaps, excluding the mitral valve, which has only two flaps.

Leaking Heart Valve

Leaking heart valve, referred as valve incompetence or regurgitation takes place whenever the heart valve fails to close properly. This results in backward blood flow. As the problem becomes worse, it pressurize on one’s heart to perform functions very hard and deal with additional volume of the blood.

Patients may un-notice it in case there is a mild leakage in the heart and if there is no symptom. On the other side, it may become serious and may cause many complications, which require treatment.

What Happens When You Have A Leaking Heart Valve?

Any of the four heart valves mentioned here may become leaky, despite aortic and mitral valves commonly suffer problems or become diseased.

When you have a minor leaking heart valve, nothing happens as you will not notice any symptoms. Minor leaks do not involve any symptom; otherwise, many healthy people may deal with one or two valves slightly leaky. In case of severe leak, it causes symptoms related to congestive heart failure in the form of-

  • Difficulty in catching breath or breathing shortness
  • Swelling in the feet, ankles or retention of fluid elsewhere in the human body
  • Unusual feeling of tiredness.

Besides this, you will deal with various other symptoms, which are-

  • Light headed feelings, dizziness and weakness
  • Fast heart beat rate, palpitations and heart flutters
  • Discomfort feelings in the chest
  • Feelings of fatigue or tiredness.

Symptoms may not necessarily relate with the severity of your present valve problems. Instead, you may do not have any symptom at all or may experience severe valve disease that requires prompt treatment. Even in case of mitral valve prolapsed, you may face severe symptoms even though your tests do not highlight any significant valve leak.

Diagnosing of Leaking Heart Valve

If patients have any of the mentioned symptoms of leaking heart valve, the general physician will-

  • Listen to the heart by using a stethoscope and thereby, listen any heart murmur
  • Listen to the lungs to view if you retain fluid in your lungs
  • Arrange different tests, such as angiogram, echocardiogram, magnetic resonance imaging and radionuclide scans.

Symptoms of a patient in combination with a physical examination and tests’ results help in determining the severity associated with one’s condition.

How to Live with Leaking Heart Valve?

If you are a patient of leaking heart valve, you may expect to receive benefits from-

Daily Physical Exercise: Try simple exercises suggested by your doctor. You should discuss with your doctor before you participate in any contact sports or competitive sport events.

Diet: You should have a healthy and a low fat diet, so that you may maintain your healthy weight

Quit Smoking: Cigarette or smoking may make your condition worse. Hence, it is essential for you to quit your smoking habits.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: February 20, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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