This article is written to remove some of the mystery regarding valvular heart disease. It is necessarily somewhat complex but it should be easier to understand than most medical information that you might receive.
Valvular heart disease or valve disease can even be present at birth (congenital) or it can develop at any period of time throughout a persons life span. There are times when the exact valvular heart disease caauses cannot be discovered. Valvular heart disease is broken down into congenital valve disease, bicuspid aortic valve disease, acquired valve disease and mitral valve prolapse (MVP).
When valve disease is present at birth, it is referred to as congenital valve disease. This type generally affects the pulmonic valve or the aortic valve. Sometimes the valves are simply not the correct size or else the leaflets have not formed properly.
Bicuspid aortic valve disease is congenital as well and in this case the bicuspid aortic valve has two cusps or leaflets instead of the three it is supposed to have. This can cause the valve to be stiff, leaky or both.
Acquired valve disease is any problem that happens as a result of once normal valves. Sometimes the makeup of valves change as a result of infections or diseases. Rheumatic fever causes the heart valve to become red and inflamed and the leaflets to cling together. This then leads to the heart valves becoming unnecessarily thickened, shortened, rigid and scarred. This can then lead to mitral regurgitation. Rheumatic fever often occurs as a result of a bacterial infection, one of the most common being strep throat. However the vast array of antibiotics that are available today have greatly reduced the incidence of this infection.
Another disease that can cause acquired valve disease is endocarditis. This disease happens when bacteria and germs make their way into the bloodstream and then begin to invade the valves of the heart. This attack causes growths to begin in the heart valves as well as holes to take place. This can then lead to scarring of the heart valves. Leaky valves end up being the result of all of this. Germs that cause endocarditis can come about as a result of surgery, IV drug use, dental surgery and/or serious types of infections. Anyone who suffers from valve disease (excluding those who have mitral valve prolapse) is at a terrible risk of getting endocarditis, which can be fatal if not treated immediately.
Mitral valve prolapse (MVP) is very widespread and affects on average one to two percent of the American population on an annual basis. This disorder causes the mitral valve leaflets to fall back into the left atrium while the heart is contracting. MVP also makes the valve tissues become strange in shape and they become stretchy and cause seepage. It is rare for MVP to bring on any symptoms at all with a patient and most of the time it does not necessitate any kind of special medical treatment.
The above diseases and disorders are the most common causes of MVP but there are other causes as well. A visit to the doctor and a variety of tests should help pinpoint the exact cause of valve disease if you are diagnosed with it. Other causes include coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathy (or heart muscle disease), heart attack, hypertension, aortic aneurysms, connective tissue diseases, and sexually transmitted disease (the most common being syphilis). There are also less common reasons for valve disease such as tumors, radiation and an assortment of drug treatments.