The heart serves the important function of pumping blood to the lungs and other parts of the body. There are valves between the four chambers of the heart to ensure that blood will flow through the heart in one direction. Valves can also be found on two large blood vessels that are connected to the heart, and they prevent blood that is pumped out from returning to the heart. A heart valve disease is a condition in which a heart valve is diseased or damaged.
Causes of Heart Valve Disease
Heart valve disease can be caused by a number of factors, including:
- abnormal valve at birth, which is considered a form of congenital heart disease
- cardiomyopathy, which is a heart muscle disease
- rheumatic fever
- a heart attack that damages the heart muscle
- previous history of endocarditis infection
- advancing age
How Heart Valve Disease Affects Blood Flow?
Basically, when a heart valve is diseased or damaged, it can have two kinds of effect on the flow of blood. A heart valve that is unable to open fully will cause obstruction of blood flow. This type of damage is known as valve narrowing or stenosis. On the other hand, a valve that cannot close properly will not be able to prevent blood from leaking backwards, a condition that is called leaky valve or valve regurgitation or incompetence. These two conditions will make it more strenuous for the heart to pump blood. In the case of valve stenosis, the heart has to work harder to force blood through the narrower valve. A heart with a leaky valve has to pump harder to get the required amount of blood to other parts of the body.