As you may remember from high school health class, the heart is one of the strongest muscles in the human body. In addition, it is divided into two halves, called the atrium and the ventricle chambers. Between these two chambers are a set of valves that insure that the blood flows in only one direction. Occasionally however, these valves become damaged and the person could suffer from some sort of heart valve disease. If left unchecked, this disease can lead to heart failure and even death.
Signs and Symptoms
It is truly difficult to determine if a set of symptoms are a sign of heart valve disease, since many of them are so mild and can be attributed to a number of different conditions including asthma, heartburn, heart attack, or sometimes even pregnancy. The best thing to do is to have a running conversation with your medical professional concerning your thoughts and physical symptoms. Based on that complete picture, he or she should be able to diagnose your situation professionally. Heart valve disease is a serious condition, and should never be self-diagnosed.
However, there are a few common symptoms of heart valve disease that if you notice on a regular basis you should watch out for. If you experience dizzy spells or faintness brought on by physical activity, shortness of breath, or chest pain while doing physical activity it is certainly something to bring up to your doctor as soon as possible.
Possible Causes of Heart Valve Disease
Often heart valve disease is caused by a malformation of the valves that separate the two chambers of the heart. These deformities can include narrowed valves, and leaking valves.
Narrowed valves that can lead to valve heart disease can be caused by a number of things, some unpreventable, others that can be prevented. One cause of this condition is congenital abnormality, a condition that is often seen since birth. Another cause, one that can be prevented through diet exercise and perhaps medications is degeneration of the valve through atherosclerosis, or hardening of the blood vessels. In addition heart valve disease can also be caused by damage from rheumatic fever or extensive calcification that sometimes occurs in old age.
Leaking valves that can lead to heart valve disease can be caused by a number of additional factors. These include such things as a bacterial infection, or other inflammation of the valve, excessive floppiness of the valve leaflets, or even enlargement of the heart or the aorta. Any or all of these things can be the cause for leaking valves, and therefore heart valve disease.
Of course, heart valve disease is nothing to be flippant about. Although it doesn’t always cause a life and death situation, it can lead to major complications with the heart, which is something that no person in their right mind would ever want. The best course of action, as true in any medical situation, is to talk to your doctor and be honest with him or her. Together you should be able to recognize a potential case of heart valve disease and make the necessary course changes.