Heart Valve Diseases

    • Brief

    • When your heart valves fail to open and close properly, they limit your heart’s ability to pump enough blood through your body. Heart valve diseases may be a result of high blood pressure that is not managed properly. Heart valve diseases affect one or more valves regulating blood flow into and out of the heart.
      Treatment depends on the heart valve affected and the severity of the disease.

    • What are the symptoms?

    • Most patients with mild heart valve disease will not have symptoms or require treatment.
      Patients who have symptoms may complain of:

      • A faster heartbeat, also when at rest. (see the post on what is an abnormal heartbeat)
      • Difficulty breathing after climbing the stairs or working.
      • Chest pain and a cough.
      • Higher blood pressure readings than expected.
      • Frequent tiredness, dizziness, or swelling of the feet and ankles.
    • What are the causes?

    • Heart valve diseases may be present at birth in some people. It can also be caused by many reasons, including ageing, an infection in the heart, uncontrolled hypertension or other conditions.

    • What are the things that put you at risk?

    • Your chances of having a heart valve disease increase if you:

      • Have or have had heart disease, heart attack, or heart failure.
      • Have high blood pressure.
      • Smoke tobacco
      • Drink alcohol excessively.
      • Are overweight or obese.
      • Have diabetes.
      • Have a close relative with a history of heart disease.
    • When to visit a doctor?

    • If you develop any of the symptoms suggestive of a heart valve disease, visit the nearest healthcare centre as soon as you can. Early detection of this disease can help you prevent complications and death.

    • How to prevent?

    • You can prevent heart valve disease caused by ageing for a while by choosing a heart-healthy diet, keeping physically active, maintaining oral hygiene and treating underlying diseases like hypertension and diabetes. Medicines and surgery can help prevent the condition from getting worse.

    • How to manage and treat?

    • Treatments for heart valve disorders depend on the severity of the condition and symptoms.

      Self-care Tips:

      • Quit smoking. Note that you may still be exposed to smoke if your friends smoke while you are hanging out.
      • Walk, rather than take a motorbike, from home to the bus stop and from the bus stop to work.
      • Eat a heart-healthy diet rich in fruits like apples, oranges and melon and foods high in fibre like wholewheat bread, beans, and potatoes with skin. Also, boil or roast food instead of frying foods like plantain and chicken.
      • Maintain a healthy weight.
      • Take some time off work to cool off and reduce stress.
      • Inform your healthcare provider if you intend to become pregnant.

      Treatment Options

      • Medicines are not a cure for heart valve disease, but they can relieve symptoms. Your healthcare provider may prescribe drugs to help you control your heartbeat and reduce fluid retention.
      • Your healthcare provider can recommend drugs that open or dilate blood vessels to improve blood flow.
      • Your healthcare provider may recommend surgery to repair or replace the malfunctioning valve(s).
      • A procedure that does not require surgery is balloon valvuloplasty. Useful in those who cannot undergo surgery, it makes the narrowing of the valve wider.

    • Kulawa cares

    • Talk to your doctor about symptoms that you experience and are concerned about during treatment. Regularly visit your healthcare provider for evaluation of your condition. Your healthcare provider will likely discover any potentially severe conditions in the early stages and recommend appropriate treatment.