Diseases of the heart valves:
Valvulopathies ( )
A disease of the heart valve describes the condition when one or several heart valves are not able to function normally. It can be either congenital or acquired. Minor forms of heart valve dysfunction do not need any treatment. However, surgery is necessary in severe cases.
The heart includes the following four valves: aortic valve, tricuspid valve, mitral valve and pulmonary valve. When any of these valves do not function normally, this will be described as a disease of the heart valve.
Palpitations, Shortness of breath, Night cough
The causes of a disease of the heart valve can be either congenital or acquired. Congenital diseases of the heart valves often occur in the pulmonary valve and aortic valve, and acquired diseases of the heart valves often involve the aortic valve and mitral valve. Generally speaking, there are three common types of dysfunction of a heart valve: regurgitation, atresia and stenosis. Regurgitation occurs when the valves are unable to close adequately, and this leads to a flowing back of blood on every heartbeat. Stenosis means that the valves do not open regularly and therefore narrow the blood canal. This occurs when the valves thicken and become stiffer. Atresia means, that the channel where the valves are located is abnormally narrow and prevents blood flowing through. An often found hint for a disease of the heart valve is a heart murmur (heart sound). Depending on which valves are affected, patients may develop symptoms such as shortness of breath, dizziness, palpitations or swollen legs.
The symptoms of some heart valve diseases develop slowly and are minor at the beginning. Sometimes they do not need any treatment but controls at regular intervals. However, once treatment is necessary, it may include medication to reduce the symptoms and for protection of the affected heart and its valves from further damage. In some severe cases, repairmen or even replacement of the heart valve can be necessary.