Categories: Cardiology

What is Leaky Heart Valve?

The heart is the vital organ of the body that pushes blood all through the body and collects back deoxygenated blood returning from different parts of the body. The heart has 4 chambers i.e. 2 upper atrium and 2 bottom ventricles. The atrium and ventricles are separated by valves, which provide unidirectional blood flow. The left ventricle opens in the aorta that supplies oxygenated blood to the body via other arteries.

  • The left ventricle and aorta are separated by an aortic valve
  • The left atrium and left ventricle are separated by mitral valve
  • The right atrium and right ventricle are separated by tricuspid valve
  • The valve between the right ventricle and the pulmonary artery is called the pulmonary valve

Each valve has three cusps except the mitral valve which has two cusps.

Sometimes, any of these heart valves do not shut properly due to a birth defect or rheumatic heart disease, or dilated heart, this is known as leaky valves. This is also known as regurgitation or backward leaking of the partial volume of blood. There may be a mixing of blood leading the heart to function extra hard to attain a similar supply. The condition might go unnoticed causing no symptoms at all to serious manifestations depending upon the extent of the leak.

Symptoms:

  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Swollen legs or upper limbs
  • Nausea
  • Increased heart rate
  • Palpitations
  • Generalized weakness

Causes:

  • A birth defect or malformation of valves
  • Hypertension
  • Rheumatic Heart Disease
  • Inflammation of inner heart membrane or endocarditis
  • Marfan Syndrome or connective tissue disorder affecting heart tissue

Diagnosis:

  • Verbal questions
  • Physical examination with a stethoscope – Abnormal heart sounds are heard at a stethoscope examination. This is presented as a heart murmur.
  • Electrocardiogram
  • Chest X-Ray
  • Echocardiogram
  • Transesophageal echocardiogram
  • Cardiac catheterization
  • MRI

Treatment:

  • Medication management –
  1. Management of high blood pressure
  2. Diuretics, or water pills
  • Management of co-morbidities
  • Lifestyle Management –
  1. Exercises like low-intensity cardio activities like walking
  2. Quit smoking
  3. Lower body weight, maintain it
  4. Diet for High blood pressure with low sodium

Surgical options for Valve Replacement include:

  1. Mechanical valve — a long-lasting valve made of durable materials
  2. Tissue valve (which may include human or animal donor tissue) last 10-20 years
  • Ross Procedure — “Borrowing” your healthy valve and moving it into the position of the damaged valve aortic valve
  1. TAVI/TAVR procedure — Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement
  2. Newer surgery options like donor valve implantation – Human donor valves, only used in conditions like infective endocarditis
  • A regular check-up with your clinician

Most of the patients with regurgitation may spend a healthy and normal life with mild medications and even milder lifestyle modifications. And if you need extra support, your healthcare support is just around the corner.

Narayana Health

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