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Heart valve replacement
Valve disease symptoms are known to happen suddenly. This is determined by how rapidly valve disease advances. If the heart disease happens slowly, the heart tends to adapt such that these symptoms are hardly noticeable. There are a number of varying types of heart valve disease. Some valve diseases such as congenital heart disease are present in a new born at birth. Other heart valve diseases and complications occur later in life (Helms & Bach, 2013).
The heart is the principal organ in the circulatory system of human beings. The human body on average has about five liters of blood which the heart continuously pumps to all parts of the body supply vital oxygen as well as nutrients (Hinton & Yutzey, 2011). The circulatory system includes the lungs, heart, and the numerous blood vessels which ensure that oxygenated blood rich in nutrients gets to every part of the body as well as ensuring that waste from metabolism in the muscles of the body get to the specific organs which are concerned with keeping the body clean (Helms & Bach, 2013). The circulatory system can be further categorized into three definite components, the systemic, coronary and pulmonary circulation. Each of these actually performs its duties independently of the other though complement each other in their collective function.
Heart valve disease alters the anatomy and physiology of different patients in different ways. It is important to note that this is also greatly determined by the seriousness and type of valve disease affecting a patient. In some heart valve disease patients there are no noticeable physiological or anatomical changes while in others heart valve disease can significantly change the patient’s anatomical and physiological health especially if the disease has taken its toll on the patient for a considerably long time.
There are two common problems that bring about the disruption of blood flow through the heart’s valves. The first problem is referred to as regurgitation and is also referred to as incompetence or insufficiency. Regurgitation arises due to the failure of a valve in the heart to close as it is supposed to. The heart operates in pumping water in a one way flow. This means that there is usually a lot of backward flow of blood instead of the blood being pumped to other parts of the body (Helms & Bach, 2013). This implies that an insufficient amount of blood leaves the heart’s chambers to other organs in the body. As the heart works independently, it attempts to pump harder to ensure that blood circulation is at the body’s recommended levels. The negative aspect of the heart attempting to correct the anomalies in the valves translates to the heart expanding which make it essentially harder for the heart to pump blood into the circulatory system.
The other type of problem involving the valves is referred to as stenosis which occurs when the valve’s leaflets do not open well enough thus allowing an insufficient amount of blood into the circulatory system. This condition or problem is brought about by the thickening of leaflets, stiffening or at times due to their fusing together (Helms & Bach, 2013).
It is important to note that symptoms of heart valve disease do not always coincide with the severity of the disease. It is common for patients failing to show any significant symptoms yet be at a critical stage of the illness. On the other hand such as in the case with mitral valve prolapse, patients exhibit critical symptoms yet medical tests show that valve leaks are insignificant.
However, there are a number of symptoms associated with valve disease and these include shortness of breath accompanied with difficulties in catching breath. This is most evident when the patient is going on with a regular daily routine or the need for extra pillows so as to be able to breathe regularly (Hinton & Yutzey, 2011). Another symptom is dizziness and at times passing out as well as general feelings of weakness. The third symptom is chest discomforts such as feeling pressure the chest especially during cold weather. Fourthly, palpitations which could be in the form of irregular heartbeats or a feeling of flip flop in the chest. Swellings in the abdomen, knees and feet also referred to as edema can exhibit the chances of one suffering from heart valve disease (Hinton & Yutzey, 2011).
Rheumatic fever is a disease that can lead to the development of valve disease. Bacterial endocarditis is a bacterial infection that actually infects the inner lining of the heart and it is known to lead to heart valve disease. Atherosclerosis as well as high blood pressure are known of causing aortic valve (Kohlmann, Rimington & Weinman, 2012). Heart attacks are also known to result in deterioration of muscles that control valves in the heart. Other causes include carcinoid tumors, systemic lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and syphilis. Migraines are treated with a drug known as Methysergide which is known to encourage valve disease (Helms & Bach, 2013).
A cardiologist can diagnose a patient with heart disease upon a conversation about the symptoms as well a through a physical examination of the circulatory system. The doctor will listen to the heart to hear the sound emitted by the valve action. A swishing sound is heard if the heart has a leak. An irregular heartbeat will signify an enlarged heart (Hinton & Yutzey, 2011).
Once a person has been diagnosed with valve disease it is critical to ensure that chances of future heart complications. Even in cases where damaged valves have been repaired through surgical means it important to stay healthy by understanding the full extent of the disease, inform all personal dentists and doctors of one’s heart condition, inform your doctor of any minor infection, ensure good care of teeth and gums, regularly take medication as prescribed, regularly visit a cardiologist even when there are no threatening symptoms (Chiu, Norris, Mahler, Recknagel & Butcher, 2010). Smoking has to be avoided and taking of more than two alcoholic drinks should be limited as well as regular exercise and proper diets should be adhered to.
Helms, A. S., & Bach, D. S. (2013). Heart valve disease. Primary care, 40(1), 91-108.
Hinton, R. B., & Yutzey, K. E. (2011). Heart valve structure and function in development and disease. Annual Review of Physiology, 73, 29-46.
Kohlmann, S., Rimington, H., & Weinman, J. (2012). Profiling illness perceptions to identify patients at-risk for decline in health status after heart valve replacement. Journal of Psychosomatic Research.
Chiu, Y. N., Norris, R. A., Mahler, G., Recknagel, A., & Butcher, J. T. (2010). Transforming Growth Factor β, Bone Morphogenetic Protein, and Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Mediate Phenotype Maturation and Tissue Remodeling by Embryonic Valve Progenitor Cells: Relevance for Heart Valve Tissue Engineering. Tissue Engineering Part A, 16(11), 3375-3383.