Are All Heart Valve Issues Dangerous to Your Health?

Are All Heart Valve Issues Dangerous to Your Health?

Your heart is the primary transportation hub for your blood. Controlling the traffic and making sure that your blood flows in the right direction are your heart valves, which open and close with each heartbeat. As you can imagine, when there’s a problem with one of these valves, it can lead to complications that threaten the entire function of your heart.

To help break down the world of valvular disease, the comprehensive team here at Advanced Cardiovascular Specialists wants to take this opportunity to discuss the role your valves play and how a problem in one of these areas can impact your health.

Valvular anatomy

Understanding the basic anatomy is important when discussing any cardiovascular disease, so let’s take a look at valves, in particular.

Your heart contains four main valves. When blood first enters your heart, it does so through your right atrium, the upper right chamber of your heart. From there, it passes through your tricuspid valve and enters your right ventricle, the lower chamber. Your tricuspid valve opens to let the blood through and then closes to prevent it from spilling backward.

From your right ventricle, your blood needs to enter your lungs for oxygen, and the gatekeeper in this area is your pulmonary valve.

After your newly oxygenated blood enters your left ventricle, it passes through to your right atria through the mitral valve.

From there, your right atria delivers the blood to your aorta through the aortic valve.

For a more detailed explanation, we invite you to click here.

Valvular issues

When you have a problem in one of your valves, it’s generally because of one of two problems:

  1. Regurgitation, which describes a valve that allows blood to leak backward
  2. Stenosis, which describes a narrowing in your valve

In either case, the circulation through your heart is affected.

What causes valvular disease?

Many conditions can affect the health of your valves, including:

Since some of these conditions are progressive, you may not be aware of a heart valve problem until the problem begins to cause symptoms. These side effects can include lightheadedness, chest pain, palpitations, fatigue, and leg swelling, to name a few. 

Some heart valve problems are more serious than others

To answer the question we pose in the title of this blog about whether all heart valve problems pose a clear-and-present danger, the answer is no, but only because of the use of the word, all.

Many valvular diseases develop over time, such as age-related stenosis, which means that the issue usually doesn’t pose an imminent threat in its earlier stages.

As valvular diseases progress, however, they can damage your heart and lead to heart failure, which is why we want to identify a heart valve problem before it gets to this point.

During the course of a normal exam here at our practice, we check you for a heart murmur, which is one of the first signs of a heart valve problem. If we find a murmur, we investigate the problem further to determine which valve is affected and to what extent.

If we catch the problem early enough, we can use medications to help blood flow through your heart more easily. 

If your valve has a serious malfunction, we may recommend surgery to fix the problem or replace the valve.

If you’re concerned about valvular disease, we invite you to contact our office in Mountain View, California, so that you can meet with one of our cardiovascular experts.

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