Heart valve disease is diagnosed when one or more of the heart valves aren’t working properly; this often causes the heart to become strained as it struggles to pump blood around the body.
Causes of valvular heart disease
Valvular heart disease is usually caused by one of two problems; either the valve is damaged so that is has become narrowed, meaning the blood cannot flow properly or the valve doesn’t close fully, meaning blood flows back into the heart. These conditions are usually caused by a congenital defect, cardiomyopathy or as a result of the ageing process.
Symptoms of heart valve disease
Common symptoms of heart valve disease include:
- Difficulties with breathing (especially during exercise)
- Heart palpitations
- Angina (pain in the chest)
- Swollen feet or ankles
Treating valvular diseases
Many patient can control their symptoms by using medications but surgery is usually required if damage to the valve is extensive or the valve has become narrowed. Medication can treat these conditions by reducing swelling, improving blood flow and keeping your heart rhythm stable and regular. Surgery is usually used to open up the valves so that blood can flow more easily or repair a damaged valve; if the valve is irreparable it may need to be removed and replaced with an artificial valve.