The heart has four chambers. The two upper chambers are called the left and right atriums, and the two lower chambers are called the left and right ventricles. There is a valve at the exit of each chamber that ensures one-way continuous flow of blood through the heart.
The four valves are the tricuspid valve, pulmonary valve, mitral valve and aortic valve. These valves open and close to prevent blood from flowing backwards.
Stenosis is when the valve opening becomes narrow and restricts blood flow.
Valvular heart disease can develop before or at birth (congenital causes) or normal valves may become damaged during one’s lifetime (acquired causes). The cause of valvular heart disease is not always known.
Many people do not notice any symptoms until their blood flow has been significantly reduced by valvular heart disease. Symptoms can include:
If you don’t have many symptoms or if they are mild and not affecting you too much, your doctor may choose to monitor your condition carefully and wait until it is necessary to treat your symptoms. It is important to understand that the symptoms of valvular heart disease may not necessarily reflect the seriousness of the problem. Regular check-ups are recommended.
Treatment will depend on the severity of your disease! If it’s minor, you may not need treatment at all. You and your doctor will discuss your options based on your condition.