Heart valve regurgitation, also known as leaky heart valves, occurs when the valves in your heart don't seal tightly. This situation forces your heart to work harder to pump blood, as it allows blood to flow back into the heart.

Types of Heart Valve Regurgitation

  1. Mitral Valve Regurgitation: Blood flows back into the heart due to a loosely sealed mitral valve.
  2. Aortic Valve Regurgitation: This happens due to birth defects or heart valve infections.
  3. Pulmonary Valve Regurgitation: A rare condition caused by elevated pulmonary pressure.
  4. Tricuspid Valve Regurgitation: Commonly found when the right ventricle becomes enlarged.

Causes and Risk Factors

Understanding the underlying causes and risk factors of heart valve regurgitation is crucial for effective treatment and management.

These factors can vary depending on the type of valve affected and may include anatomical abnormalities, lifestyle conditions, or existing diseases.

Below are some of the common causes and risk factors associated with different types of heart valve regurgitation:

  • Mitral Valve:
    • Left atrium valve prolapse
    • Left ventricle enlargement
    • Valve infection
    • Rheumatic heart disease
  • Aortic Valve:
    • Two-leaflet valve
    • High blood pressure
    • Valve infection
    • Marfan syndrome
    • Rheumatic heart disease
  • Pulmonary Valve:
    • Elevated pulmonary pressure
    • Childhood heart surgeries
  • Tricuspid Valve:
    • High pulmonary pressure
    • Pulmonary fluid retention

Symptoms of Heart Valve Regurgitation

Mild heart valve regurgitation may show no signs, but severe cases can cause:

  • Fatigue post-normal activities
  • Palpitations, chest discomfort, and leg swelling
  • Irregular heart rhythms
  • Feeling faint or losing consciousness
  • Difficulty lying flat due to chest tightness

Diagnosis and Testing

  • Medical history assessment
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG) and echocardiogram (echo) after a thorough physical and cardiac check-up.

Treatment Options

  • Limit salt and sodium in your diet.
  • Left ventricle function may require a pacemaker.
  • Medication for pulmonary fluid retention and vasodilators for aortic issues.
  • Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI)
  • Valve replacement surgery

Possible Complications

  • Blood clots risk, affecting lungs or brain
  • Fluid retention in the lungs
  • Cardiomegaly due to extra heart effort
  • Irregular heart rhythms
  • Stroke
  • Heart failure
  • Sudden death risk

Prevention Measures

  • Refrain from smoking and alcohol consumption.
  • Exercise within your health limits.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Nutrient-rich diet, avoiding sugar, fat, and salt.
  • Regular medical check-ups and consistent doctor visits.
  • Immediate medical attention for any cardiac symptoms.