Valvular Heart Disease - Medical Malpractice LawyersLEGAL HELPLINE: ☎ 855 804 7125
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Valvular Heart Disease - Medical Malpractice
Valvular heart disease is a condition of the heart in which the valves of the heart do not work the way they are supposed to. There are four heart valves. The tricuspid valve controls the flow of blood from the right atrium to the right ventricle. The pulmonary valve controls the outflow of blood from the right ventricle to the lungs. The mitral valve controls the flow of the left atrium to the left ventricle and the aortic valve controls the flow of the blood from the left ventricle to the main part of the body. The valves most affected by valvular heart disease are the mitral valve and the aortic valve.
Valvular heart disease comes in several forms. There is valvular stenosis, in which the valve does not open completely so the heart has to work much harder to push the blood through. This can lead to congestive heart failure. It is most common in the aortic valve. Valvular regurgitation or valvular insufficiency is a leakage of the valve backward during contraction of the heart. This also leads to congestive heart failure and dilatation of the heart chambers that are affected by the insufficiency. The most common valve which suffers from regurgitation is the mitral valve.
The cause of valvular heart disease can be congenital or acquired. You can have congenital heart valve disease most commonly with the aortic or pulmonic valve. The valves may not be the right size, might not have the right number of leaflets, or might have malformed leaflets. A common congenital valvular disease is called a bicuspid aortic valve. This means you have two leaflets of the aortic valve as opposed to three leaflets of the aortic valve. The valve becomes stiff and can be stenotic or leaky.
In acquired valvular disease, things like endocarditis or rheumatic fever can precipitate a change in the valves so that the valves no longer function properly. This is less common than congenital valvular heart disease.
A common heart valve problem is called mitral valve prolapse which affects up to 2 percent of the population. It is also called MVP. The mitral valve is floppy during the contraction of the heart. The valve eventually becomes leaky but, in the early stages, it requires no treatment and has only symptoms of heart palpitations or no symptoms at all.
Rarer causes of heart valvular disease include having a heart attack or coronary artery disease, having syphilis, and having aortic aneurysms and connective tissue diseases.
Symptoms of valvular heart disease can be palpitations, chest pains, shortness of breath, congestive heart failure and heart arrhythmias.
Doctors can identify valvular heart disease by listening to the heart for certain types of heart murmurs. Heart murmurs are usually heard during the systolic phase of the heartbeat but can be heard during the diastolic phase as well. Doctors can also do an echocardiogram to see what the valves look like. This is basically an ultrasound of the heart that can see all aspects of the organ. An MRI of the heart can also be done to evaluate the heart chambers.
The treatment of valvular heart disease depends on whether or not the valvular disease is severe. You will need to take antibiotics with any dental or surgical procedures in order to prevent endocarditis of the valves from bacteria getting onto the heart valves. Surgery to remove the damaged valve or repair the valve can be done. Removal of the valve is always associated with a valvular replacement. There are three types of valves used in valvular replacement. These are metallic and plastic valves that are completely manmade, pig valves or other animal heart valves and transplanted human heart valves.
Medications can be used to make the valve work better. These include diuretic medication to draw off extra fluid from the body, medications to control an arrhythmia, vasodilators, ACE inhibitors, beta blockers and blood thinners that keep clots from forming on the heart valves.LEGAL HELPLINE: ☎ 855 804 7125
The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here