Mitral Valve Stenosis

Mitral valve stenosis occurs when this valve in the heart does not allow the appropriate amount of blood through.  If blood cannot efficiently move through the arteries insufficient blood is supplied to the brain and increased chance of clotting occurs.  Some symptoms of aortic valve stenosis is shortness of breath and fatigue.  Rheumatic fever is the leading cause of this heart malfunction and generally occurs in childhood, though the effects may not be evident until later in life.  Treatment options are available unless the damage is so great that tissue is permanently damaged.  Extensive testing is available in order to provide this information.

Symptoms of this disease also include swollen feet or ankles, fluttering heartbeat, frequent respiratory infections, persistent coughing, and even chest pain (though this is rare).  Untreated symptoms can lead to congestive heart failure due to the over exertion of the respiratory and cardiac systems of the body. Regular testing for problems such as a heart murmur, lung congestion, arrhythmias, pulmonary hypertension, and blood clots are important to any person who has a family history of cardiac problems.  Preventative testing usually only applies to family with a history of conditions.  Seemingly unrelated symptoms include heart murmur, lung congestion, arrhythmias, pulmonary hypertension, and blood clots.

The causes of this disease are all connected to the weakening of the heart chambers. This can be caused by infection, disease, or genetic disposition. One of the major underlying causes of mitral valve stenosis is a childhood disease called rheumatic fever.  With the onset of this disease the respiratory and cardiac functions are disabled for life in one way or another.  At the very least a person experiences lower immune function due to the damage of these systems.  In addition, the mitral valve can individually be damaged due to the intensity of the disease causing a thickening of leaflets or complete fusion of the valve.  Either of these actions causes a weakening in the function of the valve thus presenting the threat of disease. Another way aortic valve stenosis is caused is by blood clots and tumors that can block the passageway.  Knowing all the details of ones family history prepares a person for possible encounters with this disease.  Congenital heart defects raise a person’s risk incredibly, but nevertheless the disease is contracted by infection or the onset of other diseases.

Recognizing symptoms of this disease is important to early diagnosis and treatment.  Breathlessness is one of the most common signs of mitral valve stenosis.  If a person suspects a problem, a doctor can order a variety of diagnostic tests which may show proof of this and other medical problems.  However, a thorough interview should be the doctors first step in order to accurately decide whether a problem exists. Listening to the patient’s heart, understanding any changes in physical activity, and any changes in how the patient feels regularly will help determine a diagnosis.  In addition, the doctor may provide suggestions related to creating a more comfortable environment for the patient while tests are being conducted.  The result of these suggestions may be a complete cure, may offer some comfort, or may not work at all.  The success of treatment before a full diagnosis is provided will also offer some clues into what is really going on in the patients body.  Based on what the doctor hears in the patients heart and lungs will give him confidence concerning whether or not to pursue further testing.

Additional testing may include an echocardiogram, electrocardiogram (ECG), holter monitoring, chest x-ray, transesophogeal echocardiogram, and cardiac catheterization.  An echocardiogram uses sound waves to monitor the heart and determine whether mitral valve stenosis is a possibility.  An electrocardiogram (ECG) is a measurement of heart beats as well as heart size to determine any abnormalities.  Holter monitoring is a portable recorder of the heart on a continual basis over a long period of time in order to get a more accurate reading.  A chest x-ray not only shows visual irregularities in a person’s heart, but any fluid that may have built up in the lungs, which may indicate aortic valve stenosis.  A transesophageal echocardiogram sends a camera down the esophagus to take a very close look at the heart.  Cardiac catheterization requires threading a thin tube full of dye through a blood vessel in the arm or groin, which fills the hearts arteries indicating any blockage and how well the heart functions.

Untreated, aortic valve stenosis reduces the blood flow to the rest of the body and can cause congestive heart failure, heart enlargement, atrail fibrillation, blood clots, and lung congestion.  Depending on whether the diagnosis is severe or mild mitral valve stenosis will determine the level and type of treatment.  In extreme cases, surgery is necessary, but in mild cases regular check ups might be the only recommendation. These check ups can help show the progression of aorta valve stenosis, which will determine the right time for surgery.  Some general suggestions of how to improve the quality of life after diagnosis include regular dentist visits, consuming less salt, avoid obesity, avoid caffeine, avoid alcohol, and get regular exercise; basically live a healthy life.