Leaky heart valve: causes, symptoms and treatment
Human heart has four valves and their proper functioning is imperative for survival.Heart valves open up when heart beats to facilitate blood flow between heart chambers, after which they close so that the blood does not leak back.
Mitral regurgitation takes place when the valve between the two chambers of the heart on the left side does not close and the blood leaks back. This problem may occur due to infections and heart attack.Sometimes, heart valves may not function properly right from birth due to congenital disorder.
In such cases structural abnormality may be the reason, and this abnormality is the result of growth of extra tissue or displacement from their original position.Prolapsed heart valves may lead to mitral regurgitation in certain cases.
Rheumatic fever is known to effect the functioning of heart badly. In this case the immune system attacks the heart valve leaflets after repeated infections.Consequently, the leaflets become thick and stiff and do not perform their function of opening and closing properly.
The problem of leaky heart valve is characterized short breath, lethargy, irregular heartbeat, selling of legs and the region around. Some people may feel extreme fatigue and tiredness. Doctors have to depend on the recent medical history to diagnose leaky heart valve. Fluid deposition in the lungs and enlarged heart are common symptoms.
To confirm the diagnosis cardiologists depend on echo cardiograms. This test helps to get the real picture of the condition of the leak heart valves. It also helps in assessing the strength of the muscles of heart. Sometimes doctors may conduct an advanced test called trans esophageal echo cardiogram or TEE.
Surgery is used to correct the condition of the leaky heart valve when it is severe, but mild problems of heart valves can be treated with medicines and regular follow ups with the doctor.
Leak in the heart valves can limit our activities because it badly effects the blood circulation which is vital for life. Some people believe that they do not have the symptoms, but in reality they have adapted themselves to these limitations.
However, in cases where leaks in heart valves lead to severe regurgitation of blood, surgery is the only way to correct it. Anybody diagnosed with leaky heart valve should not overlook this issue and go for surgery immediately before heart looses its functioning capacity to great extent.In more than 80% cases, surgery of heart valves results in longer life, improved functionality of the heart, reduced risk of further complications, which altogether result in improved quality of life. In these cases patients do not need to take anti-coagulants or blood thinners.
Replacement of valves may become necessary when they cannot be repaired. Replacement also results in great improvement in the quality of life because of better functioning of heart. Medical science has made great advancement in this direction and both simple and complex heart valve disease can be diagnosed and treated well. Leaky heart valve can prove fatal if left without medical intervention. Timely diagnosis and treatment can spare the heart from loosing its capacity to function properly.