Heart valve disease affects an estimated 8.7 to 11.6 million Americans. When valve problems occur, they usually involve regurgitation or backflow when a valve doesn’t close tightly or stenosis, which is the tightening of a valve, not allowing it to fully open, thereby increasing the work the heart has to perform in order to pump the blood through the valve. Heart valve disease can involve one valve or several in combination, but the aortic and mitral valves are the ones most frequently affected.
Some diseases, conditions, and health problems have clear-cut symptoms. If you have arthritis, your joints hurt. Parkinson’s causes tremors. Heart attack, stroke, and even a urinary tract infection are accompanied by recognizable, tell-tale signs. Such is not always the case with peripheral artery disease (PAD). Its symptoms are often ambiguous, which means that sometimes we have to perform tests to rule out other issues – and no patient likes to be poked or prodded more than necessary.
You’ve probably heard of plaque as it relates to your arteries and know it isn’t good. Carotid artery stenosis, or carotid artery disease, is one example of why.
Carotid artery stenosis occurs when fatty deposits clog the arteries on either side of the neck that deliver blood to the front of the brain, where thinking, speech, personality, and sensory and motor functions are located. Blockage of the carotid arteries increases the risk of stroke with the possibility of permanent disability.
Atrial Fibrillation, often called AFib by doctors and other people in the medical field, describes a certain kind of irregular heartbeat – more specifically, when the two upper chambers of the heart beat unpredictably and rapidly.
It’s no secret you need to take care of your heart. Low-activity lifestyles, high-fat diets, smoking, hereditary conditions – all of these contribute to weakening your heart and, in turn, can lead to any number of heart valve diseases. Here are some of the most common forms of heart valve disease, what they mean for your heart, and how to prevent them.