The heart has four one way valves arranged in ‘series’ that help guide blood flow in the normal direction without posing obstruction. There are two basic types of disease that might afflict a heart valve: Stenosis and Regurgitation.
Narrowing that causes obstruction to blood flow. This will force the heart to work harder to pump blood.
Also called insufficiency or incompetence; essentially a leaky valve. Blood can therefore travel backwards. The pumping action of the heart becomes inefficient, since part of the blood does not flow forward. Secondly to maintain adequate blood flow in the face of inefficiency, the heart has to work harder.
Combinations of the two types of HEART VALVE DISEASE (HVD) i.e. stenosis and regurgitation are very common.
- Firstly, you can expect to live a long, active and healthy life.
- Secondly, a detailed ECHOCARDIOGRAM (an ultrasound of the heart) can figure out the heart valve problem, its severity and effects on the heart. It’s important that patient symptoms, valve diasease and the effects on the heart must correlate and explain each other – prior to formulating any treatment plan. Most patients may not require surgical intervention for some years, and some young ladies can be encouraged to plan families during this time.
- Some patients with mild or moderate HVD could be MONITORED REGULARLY with a physical check, echocardiogram and some other tests. Often these checks are required once every 1–2 years; with the provision that the patient can be seen earlier if required.
Commonly prescribed medications can slow down the disease progress, releive symptoms and improve quality of life.
Surgery for Heart Valve disease:
With appropriate preparation and assessment, most HVD patients can undergo safe conventional heart valve surgery. Multiple factors are taken into consideration by your surgeon including patients age, heart valve disease type, overall heart function, backpressure effects on the lungs, other organs system health, general fitness etc. before advising a heart valve operation.