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Expert Explains Causes & Prevention Of Valvular Heart Disease

The most frequent cause of valve disease in India and other developing nations is rheumatic heart disease, which is caused by a bacterial infection.

Varun Verma
Written by: Varun VermaUpdated at: Feb 10, 2023 18:12 IST
Expert Explains Causes & Prevention Of Valvular Heart Disease

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Valvular disease is one of the most prevalent forms of heart disease in India and other developing nations. Before we go into the details, let's identify a valve. As we all know, the heart is a muscular organ. It has four compartments, and the blood travels from one to the next before being pumped into the body. For the blood to cross from one chamber to the next, a door that opens in one way is required. Valves are the name of these doors. The aortic, mitral, tricuspid and pulmonary valves are the four valves in the heart. Here is what Dr Bharat V Purohit, Sr. Consultant Interventional Cardiologist & Director of Cath Lab, Yashoda Hospitals, has to say about types, causes, and prevention of valvular heart disease. 

Stenosis and regurgitation are the two main forms of diseases that affect these valves. Stenosis is the inability to open due to stiffness, and regurgitation is the inability to close, resulting in leakage or backflow. In a particular person, valvular heart disease can manifest as stenosis or regurgitation of one or more valves in various combinations.

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Types Of Valve Disease

Heart valves are affected in two ways. Primary valve disease, which affects the valves directly. Secondary valve disease prevents the valves from operating properly, leading to stenosis or regurgitation.

Valve Disease Causes

The following are the causes of valve diseases: 

  • Rheumatic heart disease
  • Degenerative or age-related heart valve diseases
  • Heart attack 
  • Cardiomyopathies
  • Thyroid conditions
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Hypertension
  • Radiation therapy
  • Congenital heart valve disease (diseases from birth)
  • The existence of pacemakers or an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (AICD) leads to both continuously. The leads of these devices rub against heart valves, especially the tricuspid valve.
  • Certain autoimmune conditions, such as carcinoid disease and lupus.

The most frequent cause of valve disease in India and other developing nations is rheumatic heart disease, which is caused by a bacterial infection that first manifests as a sore throat or skin infection in children and damages the heart valves, leading to stenosis, regurgitation, or a combination of the two that manifests in later adulthood. Rheumatic heart disease is on the decline nowadays because of improved cleanliness and infection control. Thus age-related valve problems are on the rise.

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Preventing Of Valve Disease

Understanding the risk factors and causes described above and putting efforts into attempting to change them are the main strategies for preventing valve disease. 

To help prevent skin illnesses and sore throats, we advise practising good oral and skin cleanliness. If either of these conditions occurs, we advise seeking medical attention right away and taking the proper antibiotics. As a preventive measure, we administer injection penicillin to patients with rheumatic fever. The progression of carditis or lingering valve damage determines how long the injection need to be taken.

It is generally advised to administer an injection for five years or until the patient reaches the age of 21 years if they have a rheumatic fever but no carditis. For people who have carditis but no valvular damage, an injection is advised for 10 years or until the person reaches the age of 21 years. Similarly, it is advised for a period of 10 years or until the person attains the age of 40 years if they have residual valve damage.

You should make strict lifestyle changes, such as eating low-sodium, heart-healthy foods, exercising regularly (at least 30-45 minutes of moderate-intensity activity five days a week), maintaining attempting to keep a healthy weight, and so on, are necessary to prevent various types of valve disease. Avoid smoking (both active and passive smoking), limit alcohol consumption, practising yoga, meditation, reiki, or other stress-reduction techniques, and avoid addiction to mobile or video games.

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In order to prevent congenital heart disease, it is important to determine whether the parents have a history of the condition or any genetic or congenital conditions that can lead to congenital heart valve disease. We can do foetal echocardiography on high-risk individuals to detect them early.

Maintaining regular doctor consultations and undergoing preventative health checks will help you detect primary heart valve disease and also diseases which secondary cause heart valve diseases like diabetes, hypertension, abnormal lipid levels, and hypertension early on, stop them from progressing, and begin definitive treatment when it is appropriate before any complications arise.

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