Stenosis is cardiac disorder in which one or multiple valves of the heart are narrow. This narrowing will then cause the respective valve(s) to open incorrectly, restricting blood flow not only though the heart, but to the rest of your body.
When this narrowing causes obstruction, your heart will then need to work harder to supply your body with blood. This extra work will eventually weaken your heart muscle, leading to symptoms such as fatigue and dizziness. Left untreated, stenosis can cause major heart problems. Heart valve replacement is usually required to treat severe stenosis.
Valve insufficiency is a condition that occurs when specific chambers of the heart do not close completely when the muscles contract. This causes a back flow of blood.
Normally, blood enters the left atrium of the heart from the lungs and is pumped through the mitral valve into the left ventricle. The left ventricle then pumps the blood into the aorta, which supplies blood to the rest of the body. Insufficiency causes a buildup of blood in the chambers of the heart, which can cause an increase in blood pressure. Increased pressure may cause fluid buildup in the lungs.
Many people with valve insufficiency show no symptoms at all. It is commonly discovered during a routine doctor visit. Depending on which type of insufficiency you have, you could experience an enlarged heart, heart palpitations as well possible blood clots in the atrium.
Rheumatic fever used to be common cause of valve insufficiency; however, rheumatic fever is very rare this day in age with the widespread use of antibiotics in developed nations. Other causes are previous heart attacks and valve degeneration with age.
The first step in determining a diagnosis is your doctor observing your heart sounds for abnormal turbulent sounds, called murmurs. If further testing is needed, your doctor will usually order a chest x-ray and/or an echocardiogram (ECG). Echocardiography is the most definitive test as it shows images of the heart’s valves in action.
If a valve becomes severely impaired, it will need to be either replaced or repaired. Both of these procedures require surgery. Repairing the valves can increase its efficiency and reduce the amount of flood that backs up.
Valves can either be replaced with a mechanical valve or one made from animal tissue. Mechanical valves can increase blood clotting, so after surgery the patient is usually required to take anticoagulant drugs to prevent clotting.