Pulmonary valve disease is a common heart condition caused by an interruption in the pulmonary valve, which is in charge for keeping blood from the heart flowing properly to the lungs. It occurs when one or more valves in the heart do not function properly.
The two most common types of valve disease include valvular stenosis and valvular insufficiency.
- Valvular stenosis: A condition that occurs when a valve opening is too narrow, causing the heart to work with greater force in order to pump the blood throughout the body.
- Valvular insufficiency: Also called regurgitation, this condition that occurs when a valve is diseased or abnormal and doesn’t close fully. This in turn causes blood to back up instead of going forward and the heart has to work with a greater force in order to make up for the leaky valve.
Treatment options for pulmonary valve disease depends on the type of pulmonary valve disease and individual is suffering from and its severity.
Common signs and symptoms of pulmonary valve disease include the following:
- Shortness of breath
- Discomfort in the chest
- Heart palpitations
- Swelling of the ankles, feet or abdomen
- Weight gain
Symptoms do not always relate to the severity of an individual’s condition. In some cases, an individual may experience no symptoms and have severe valve disease, requiring immediate treatment.
The exact cause of pulmonary valve disease remains unknown. It can develop before birth or can be acquired sometime during one's lifetime. There are many changes that can occur to the valves of the heart. These changes may be brought on by:
- Rheumatic fever (usually strep throat)
- Mitral valve prolapse
- Coronary artery disease
- Heart attack
- Aortic aneurysms
Less common causes of pulmonary valve disease include the following:
- Certain medications
- Exposure to radiation for cancer treatment
Factors that can increase the risk of pulmonary valve disease include the following:
- Being a smoker
- Being of older age
- Being overweight
- Having an alcohol problem
- Having a chronic illness
- Using steroids
- Having diabetes
- Having a personal history of kidney disease
- Having poor cardiac function
- Having extensive heart disease
- Having poor nutrition
Possible complications that can arise from pulmonary valve disease include the following:
- Heart failure
- Life-threatening infection
Treatment options for pulmonary valve disease focus on decreasing the workload on the heart, restoring normal heart rhythm and preventing blood clots and strokes. In some cases, pulmonary valve disease can be monitored or its symptoms treated with antibiotics. In more severe cases, however, surgery may be required.
A few surgical procedures include:
- Cardiac catheterization: A surgical procedure that involves the insertion of a tube into a vein in the leg and up to the heart and further insertion of instruments through the tube to help diagnose and treat cardiovascular conditions.
- Heart valve repair: A surgical procedure that involves separating fused valve cusps, sewing torn cusps or reshaping parts of the valve to allow it to close tightly.
Though pulmonary valve disease cannot be prevented, there are a few measures that can be taken to improve overall health and slow the development of heart disease. They include:
- Avoiding smoking
- Eating a healthy diet
- Reducing stress levels through workout exercises
- Losing weight if necessary to alleviate pressure on the heart