Valvular heart diseases can contribute to heart failure and heart attack, but you can prevent these serious conditions by having regular checkups at HeartCare Associates of Connecticut. The team of cardiovascular specialists has considerable expertise in diagnosing and treating valvular heart diseases, and the sooner you start any treatment, the less likely you are to experience a potentially life-threatening heart problem. To schedule a consultation, call one of their locations in Hamden, East Haven, North Haven, West Haven, and Wallingford, Connecticut, or book an appointment online.
Valvular heart diseases are conditions that affect the valves in your heart. Your heart has four valves:
The valves have flaps of tissue that ensure your blood flows the right way. The flaps open and close every time your heart beats, so blood moves around your heart and into your body in a one-way system.
Valvular heart diseases can be congenital, which means they’re there before you’re born, or you might develop a disease at some point through the course of your life.
Possible causes of valvular heart disease include:
Less commonly, tumors, radiation, and certain types of drugs can cause valvular heart disease.
There are several different kinds of valvular heart disease. Some of the most common forms seen by the team at HeartCare Associates of Connecticut include:
Congenital valve disease typically affects the pulmonic or aortic valve. The affected valve may develop with leaflets that are the wrong shape or don’t attach properly, or they could be the wrong size.
Bicuspid aortic valve disease is another congenital condition. Rather than having the usual three cusps or leaflets, the affected valve just has two. This can result in the valve having problems opening and closing correctly, known as a stiff valve, or being unable to close tightly enough, which is known as a leaky valve.
MVP affects between 1% and 2% of people in the United States. If you have MVP, the leaflets in your mitral valve are floppy and drop back into your left atrium when your heart contracts. The valve leaks as a result, but in most cases, you won’t be aware of any problems and won’t need treatment for MVP.
Acquired valve disease is a condition that affects healthy valves when you have an infection or disease. The most common sources of acquired valve disease are:
Rheumatic fever develops when a bacterial condition such as strep throat goes untreated. It’s most often a child that develops the disease, and it causes inflammation in their heart valves. The inflammation might not cause any symptoms for decades, typically into middle age. Since the introduction of antibiotics, rheumatic fever is far less of a threat.
Endocarditis is a bacterial infection that travels in your bloodstream. It can enter your body when you’re having surgery or during a dental procedure, or because of intravenous drug use or another severe infection. The endocarditis infection ends up in your heart and attacks the valves, which develop holes, growths, and scarring. The valves can then become leaky.
Other changes that can occur in your heart valves include stretched or torn chordae tendineae or papillary muscles, or the valve annulus can widen or dilate too far. Valve leaflets can also calcify or stiffen.
Make sure your heart is healthy by having a checkup at HeartCare Associates of Connecticut. Call your nearest office today for a checkup or book an appointment online.