With every heart beat blood flows into, out of and through the heart. Research reveals that a heart pumps 100 gallons of blood on an average to the body every hour. It means that a heart pumps about 24000 gallons of blood in a single day
The flow of blood through heart is only in one direction. It is pertinent to ask that how the heart manages to keep up the flow of blood in uni-direction. Well, this becomes possible with the help of valves. Valves that open and close with each heart beat and let the blood pass through while blocking the passage of its return. Valves have the characteristic of opening their flap like doors also named as leaflets or cusps to allow the flow of blood and then in no time closing the flaps tight enough to prevent the back flow of even a single drop of blood.
In a human heart there are four valves:
- Aortic valve
- Mitral valve
- Pulmonary valve
- Tricuspid valve
Function of heart is to pump fresh oxygenated blood to the body while collecting the used without oxygen blood coming back from the body to the upper right chamber of heart called right atrium. The tricuspid valve forces the blood in to the lower right chamber known as right ventricle. The right ventricle pump then sends the blood through the pulmonary valve that leads the blood in to the lungs from where blood absorbs sufficient oxygen. When the right ventricle gets ready to pump the blood through pulmonary valve the tricuspid valve shuts its flaps to atop the backward flow of blood in to the atrium.
The blood rich with oxygen comes to the upper left chamber, the left atrium, of the heart from lungs. Blood is forced in to the left ventricle by the virtue of mitral valve while the mitral valves shuts down to prevent the back flow of blood. The process of right ventricle to push the oxygen-less blood in to the lungs corresponds with the process of left ventricle pushing the oxygen rich blood to aorta valve and to the rest of the body organs.
There are two conditions that can lead to the disruption in the flow of blood through the valves in heart: one is regurgitation and the other is stenosis. Regurgitation is the incompetence or the insufficiency. Regurgitation is the condition when one of the valve remains fail in properly shutting down and as a result blood leaks back. This condition affects the uni-directional flow of blood and as a result the amount of blood reaches to the body parts is reduced. In case too much blood flows back then the amount of blood pumped to the body is badly disturbed and organs remain failed in receiving the required amount of oxygen necessary to meet their routine functions. To meet the requirement of the parts of body the heart has to work more effectively and the hard work will dilate or enlarge the heart with the passage of time and its capability to pump blood to the body will be reduced.
Stenosis is the problem when the flaps of valves do not open up thoroughly and allows only a limited amount of blood to flow in. Stenosis occurs when leaflets are fused together, got thicker or stiffer. With the valve became narrower the heart has to work harder to meet the requirement of body.
Reasons of Valve Disease
Rheumatic fever was the only major cause of valve disease before the usage of antibiotics by the doctors for the treatment of a number of ailments. Today the disease of valves is related to multiple reasons. These factors are as follows:
The energy changes in the body can weaken the tissues of the valves. The condition is called myxomatous degeneration. The condition usually affects the mitral valve and is witnessed in elder patients.
Calcific degeneration can also lead to the valve disease. In this problem calcium builds up are found on the valves that makes them thick. The condition strikes to the mitral and aorta valves.
The irregular shape of narrowed mitral valve or the aorta leads to the valve disease. The situation is a congenital defect and is mostly a born defect.
There are some anti-obesity medicines that were introduced in to the market but later on discovered to be the cause of valve disease for example fen-phen and Redux.
Infective endocarditis is the condition that infects the lining of the walls of heart and the valves known as endocardium.
Coronary artery disease also plays vital part in the development of valve disease.
Heart attack is among the reasons that lead to the damage of valve.
Symptoms of Valve Disease
Like other heart disease the symptoms of valve disease depends on the severity and the type of valve disease. In some cases there are no signs at all. In other patients the valve disease can take its toll for years. In the meanwhile the patient can develop congestive heart failure. It is worth remembering that a valve disease can lead the patient to other diseases related to the muscles of heart such as cardiomyopathy, associated with the irregular heart beat as arrhythmia and the formation of blood clots.
No one can deny the significance of a minor part like valve plays in the overall functioning of the heart. Valve transplantation is the mostly utilized treatment of valve disease but the treatment of such a delicate part leads to a number of infection already discussed. Again good diet and regular exercise are the only tools that can help in pushing away the threat.