Human heart is a very complex organ. It beats without resting throughout your lifetime. This complex organ is divided into four chambers, the upper two are known as right and left auricles and the lower ones are called right and left ventricles. Between the auricles and ventricles there is thin flap of tissue or a valve. The two valves are aortic valve and mitral valve. This heart valve allows the blood to flow from upper chambers to lower chambers but at the same time it restricts the blood to flow backwards.
Enlarged or thickened heart valve occurs as a result of damage caused to the heart valve, either due to an infective pathology or a congenital condition or due to certain medication. A heart with an enlarged valve has to overwork in order to adequately supply the blood to various organs and tissues. But gradually with its overwork due to enlarged heart valve, the heart itself becomes enlarged in size giving rise to various symptoms.
What Causes Enlargement Of Heart Valves?
- Endocarditis: endocarditis is caused due to bacterial infection on the heart valves. It leads inflammation, thickening and fibrosis of the cusps and ring of the mitral valve. Most often it is the mitral valve that gets infected in endocarditis. The bacteria affect the valves either through the blood stream, or after a dental infection or skin infection.
- Rheumatic fever: the disease develops as a consequence of streptococcal bacteria invading the throat. It is often preceded by tonsillitis or pahryngitis. Its incidence is greatest in childhood and adolescence. The hallmark of rheumatic fever is presence of rheumatic nodule over bony prominences such as elbow, knees, skull, and vertebrae.
- Ebstein’s anomaly: it is a congenital condition of heart. Here the valve adheres to the cardiac walls restricting the blood flow from one chamber to another.
- Congenital defect in tricuspid valve can also lead to vavular enlargement.
- Certain medications are also known to cause valvular enlargement of the heart.
Symptoms Of Enlarged Heart Valves
Many times the symptoms may not be manifested since the severity of the condition is not out of proportion. However following are some of the heart valve enlargement symptoms. Most of the symptoms are due to simultaneous the enlargement of heart.
- Breathing difficulty. Patient experiences breathing difficulty on slightest exertion.
- Swelling in lower legs. There is a pitting edema near the ankle. In more severe condition, there may be swelling on the face, especially when the patient gets up early in the morning.
- Fainting and dizziness.
- Extreme fatigue and weakness.
- Pain in chest region, more often a feeling of discomfort in the chest.
- Palpitation of heart.
- Disturbance in heart rhythm, also called arrhythmia.
Heart Valve Enlargement Treatment
The treatment of enlarged and thickened heart valve may depend on the severity of the symptoms and the type of heart valve disease. If the symptoms are not serious, the doctor may advice his patient for regular checkup and follow-up.
Take good care of gums and throat and immediate treatment when there is an infection in the gums or in the throat. A course of antibiotics before doing any dental work helps to restrict the germs causing further damage to the heart valves.
Lastly, surgical repair of enlarged heart valve or replacement of the valve may eventually be necessary in some cases.