Each year in the United States, more than five million people receive a valve disease diagnosis, a condition that occurs when one or more of your heart’s valves doesn’t work correctly. Because a few different problems can affect your heart valves, the right treatment approach requires a proper diagnosis. At CardioHealth in Jacksonville, Florida, board-certified cardiologist Ramon Castello MD, FACC, FASE provides comprehensive care — including surgery — for patients with valve disease. To learn more, call or book an appointment online today.
Your heart contains four valves that manage blood flow within your heart and throughout your body. Besides ensuring that blood continues to flow freely in the correct direction, your valves also work to prevent backward leakage.
When one or more of these valves doesn’t function as it should, it disrupts blood flow and interferes with your circulation, causing a variety of symptoms.
Three main problems cause valve disease:
When valves don’t close completely, they allow blood to leak backward into your heart. Regurgitation is most often caused by valve prolapse or incompetent valve flaps that bulge backward.
When valves become narrow and hard, or stenotic, they may cause reduced blood flow. When stiff valves fuse together, they force blood to back up and pool in adjacent chambers.
This condition occurs when a heart valve doesn’t have an opening for blood to pass through; instead, a sheet of tissue covers the area where the hole should be.
It’s possible to have valve disease for years without experiencing any noticeable symptoms. For many people, being diagnosed with a heart murmur during a routine physical is one of the first signs that they have a valve problem.
As valve disease progresses, it often causes symptoms that are similar to those caused by heart failure, such as:
Left untreated, valve disease increases your chances of developing blood clots and heart rhythm abnormalities. Ultimately, it can lead to heart failure, stroke, and death.
If you have valve disease, your treatment plan depends on the underlying cause of the problem, the severity of your condition, and how quickly the disease seems to be progressing.
Besides refraining from smoking and maintaining a heart-healthy lifestyle, you may also require medication to control high blood pressure, reduce high cholesterol, or prevent arrhythmias.
To learn more about valve disease, call or book an appointment online today.