Acquired Valve Disease
Valve disease is a condition during which the valves of the heart do not function as they should.
The valves of the heart are meant to maintain a one-way blood flow within the heart. These valves ensure there is no resistance when the blood flows in one direction and no leakage when the valves close.
The blood is first brought to the right atrium by the Vena Cava Superior and Vena Cava Inferior. The contraction of the right atrium causes the blood to enter the right ventriclewhere it is pushed into the pulmonary artery and through the lungs. The blood is then brought to the left atrium via the pulmonary vein. Then the blood enters the left ventricle and is expelled into the aorta.
There are two main types of valve disease:
- Valvular Stenosis - This condition causes the opening of the valve is too narrow for the blood to flow freely. This happens when the leaflets of the valve become too stiff or fuse together. This causes the heart to work extra hard to push the blood through the narrow opening. Eventually this leads to heart failure as the heart muscle is no longer able to handle the extra strain. All four valves of the heart can become stenotic (narrow); these conditions are called aortic stenosis, mitral stenosis, pulmonic stenosis, and tricuspid stenosis.
- Valvular Insufficiency - Another name for valvular insufficiency is incompetence, regurgitation or “leaky valve”. This happens when a valve does not close tightly and some of the blood flows back. The greater the backward flow, the more the heart has to work to compensate. There are four types of valvular insufficiency: aortic regurgitation, mitral regurgitation, pulmonary regurgitation and tricuspid regurgitation.