Heart valve replacements are more common than most people think. In the United States it is said that over 99,000 heart valve surgeries are performed yearly. The majority of the valve replacement surgeries are to replace or repair the mitral or aortic valve, since the left side of the heart works harder than the right.
There are several types of valve disease, the two most common are valvular stenosis and valvular insufficiency. Valvular stenosis occurs when the opening of the valve is smaller than normal causing the valve to work harder to push blood often resulting in heart failure and other serious conditions. Valvular stenosis can occur in any of the four heart valves, called tricuspid stenosis, pulmonic stenosis, mitral stenosis, and aortic stenosis. Valvular insufficiency, also called regurgitation or “leaky valve”, occurs when the valve does not close all the way. As the leak gets worse over time the heart has to then work harder to make up for the valve that is leaking also causing less blood to flow to the rest of the body. Valvular stenosis can occur in any of the four heart valves, called tricuspid regurgitation, pulmonary regurgitation, mitral regurgitation, and aortic regurgitation.
Sometimes the causes of valve disease are unknown. Some can develop before birth or a person can develop the condition over one’s lifetime. Congenital valve disease often affects the aortic or pulmonic valve from the valve being the wrong size, having malformed cusps, or having cusps that are not attached properly to the annulus. Bicuspid aortic valve disease is a congenital valve disease that affects the aortic valve, instead of the three normal cusps of the tricuspid the bicuspid aortic valve only having two and not having the third cusp causes the valve to become stiff or leaky with this disease. Acquired valve disease is when the problems develop with valves that were once normal. This disease can involve changes in the structure from a variety of diseases or...
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