Heart Valve Disease
There are four valves in the heart, the aortic and mitral valves are situated on the left side of the heart. The tricuspid and pulmonary valves are situated on the right side of the heart. Heart valves allow blood to be directed around the heart and when working normally allow the blood to flow in one direction. They open and close with every heartbeat
- that's 100,000 times every day!
What is heart valve disease?
Heart Valve Disease is a term used to describe heart valves which are not functioning normally. Sometimes people are born with abnormal heart valves (congenital abnormalities) or the valve disease can be acquired due to degeneration (wear and tear), infection or previous rheumatic fever.
When valves do not function correctly they either become stenosed (narrowed) or regurgitant (leaky).
How is heart valve disease diagnosed and treated?
Heart valve disease is usually diagnosed when the doctor listens to your heart and hears a murmur. The term murmur is used to describe a sound caused by abnormal blood flow across a diseased heart valve.
Most of the time, heart valve disease does not cause any symptoms but simply needs monitoring. If treatment of valve disease is necessary, options for treatment include open heart surgery (heart valve replacement or repair) or keyhole operations.
Do I need to change my lifestyle if I have
heart valve disease?
As with any type of heart valve disease, it is important that you follow a healthy diet and keep your weight within a normal range.
If you smoke it is advisable that you stop. Your GP can guide you to support to help you stop smoking.
Most patients with heart valve disease will be encouraged to take regular exercise but you should discuss this with your Healthcare Professional.
If you are planing pregnancy you should discuss this with your Healthcare Professional first and let them know immediately if you become pregnant.
Patients with heart valve disease should maintain good oral hygiene and visit the dentist regularly.