In previous years, heart valve stenosis, a constriction of the heart valve, was mainly due to rheumatic ailments affecting younger patients. These days, it's mostly attributed to age-related valve wear, increasing in frequency as patients grow older.

The Role of the Heart Valve

The heart valve is a crucial part of the heart's function. It acts like a gate, opening and closing as the heart pumps to direct blood flow. This allows oxygenated blood to circulate efficiently. A valve leak can result in reverse blood flow, and a narrowed valve hinders effective blood movement.

Causes and Risk Factors

  • Childhood infection like rheumatic heart disease or bacterial infections.
  • Body degeneration: The heart valve endures ongoing pressure, which can lead to its wear. Plaque buildup can also cause the valve to thicken, restricting its ability to open fully.

Symptoms of Heart Valve Stenosis

Symptoms can range from mild to severe. While mild cases may be symptomless, severe heart valve stenosis can cause:

  • Fatigue during routine tasks
  • Chest discomfort, palpitations, and leg swelling
  • Arrhythmia
  • Dizziness and fainting spells
  • Inability to lie flat due to chest tightness, similar to pulmonary edema

Testing and Diagnosis

  • Comprehensive medical history
  • Complete physical and cardiac evaluation, featuring EKG and echocardiogram tests to gauge the level of valve stenosis.

Treatment Options

  • Symptomatic relief via medications
  • Valve repair or replacement for severe conditions
  • Traditional valve replacement surgery involves open-heart procedures to insert a synthetic valve.
  • Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI) offers a less invasive alternative, replacing the valve through a catheter inserted at the groin or chest.

Possible Complications

  • Blood clots migrating to lungs or brain
  • Fluid buildup in lungs (Pulmonary edema)
  • Enlarged heart (Cardiomegaly)
  • Arrhythmia
  • Strokes
  • Heart failure
  • Sudden death

Preventative Measures

  • Abstain from smoking and alcohol.
  • Engage in appropriate, regular exercise.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Consume a balanced diet, avoiding excessive sugar, fats, and salt.
  • Regular medical check-ups are essential.