Valvular heart disease refers to a medical condition in which one or more of the heart valves do not function properly due to either abnormal anatomy or impaired function. This can disrupt the overall functioning of the heart. Detecting valvular issues early enables the patient to receive the most suitable treatment based on the disease's stage.
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What do heart valves do?
Heart valves are essential parts of the cardiovascular system. Any abnormalities in their structure or disruptions in their function can lead to several conditions, collectively known as heart valve disease, that can interfere with the normal functioning of the heart.
Symptoms of heart valve disease
Heart valve disease can sometimes be asymptomatic. It is a discreet condition, and its signs may not become apparent until it has progressed to an advanced stage. In such cases, detection may require listening to a heart murmur with a stethoscope or performing a cardiac ultrasound.
When symptoms do occur, they typically include:
- Shortness of breath, whether during exercise or at rest.
- Angina (chest pain).
- Occasional fainting.
- Palpitations or irregular heartbeat.
- Persistent fatigue.
- Swelling of the abdomen or lower legs, including the ankles.
- Signs of heart failure.
Heart valve disease: What causes it?
Heart valve disease affects hundreds of thousands of people worldwide each year. It can be caused by :
- Congenital malformation
- Age-related degeneration
- Rheumatic fever
- Infection (endocarditis)
- Complications of a heart attack.
- Heart disease with changes in normal valve function, such as heart failure after a heart attack.
Potential progression of valve disease and its consequences
Heart valve disease tends to progress gradually, often at a slow pace. Patients need to be monitored regularly because the disease typically progresses in stages, with gradual deterioration of their condition. Patients must undergo routine echocardiograms to assess ventricular function and identify the need for surgical intervention early.
Regardless of the underlying cause of heart valve disease, the resulting damage can lead to two different problems: stenosis and valvular insufficiency.
In stenosis, the opening of the heart valve narrows, obstructing the passage of blood through the narrowed opening.
Conversely, in valvular insufficiency, the valve fails to close completely, allowing blood to flow backward into the original chamber of the heart.
The impact of valvular heart disease on heart function varies and depends on several factors, including the valve involved, the type of dysfunction (stenosis or insufficiency),and its severity.
What are the best solutions to treat this disease?
Heart valve disease can be effectively treated in Turkey with an appropriate treatment plan. First, a healthy lifestyle can prevent symptoms from getting worse. Second, medications can be used to relieve symptoms and slow the progression of the disease. Finally, in the most severe cases, surgery may be required to repair or replace the defective heart valve.
In short, understanding and treating heart valve disease is an essential aspect of maintaining heart health, because a healthy heart is at the heart of overall well-being.
Treatment Options for Heart Valve Disease in Turkey
There are several treatment options for heart valve disease in Turkey, including medical therapy, minimally invasive procedures, and open-heart surgery.
A doctor in Turkey may prescribe drug therapy to relieve symptoms and minimize the risk of further damage to your heart valves. Some medications can be stopped if corrective surgery is planned, while others must be taken for life.
Heart valve repair is a surgical or minimally invasive procedure to correct a malfunctioning heart valve. It usually involves the valve leaflets, which are responsible for opening and closing to help blood flow through the heart. In some cases, the doctor may determine that reconstructive surgery is the most appropriate solution for this condition.
If surgical repair is not an option, replacement of the damaged heart valve may be the most effective solution. In this surgical procedure, the defective heart valve is replaced with a new one.
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