Is a leaky heart valve serious?
Is a leaky heart valve serious? Will it kill you? How long can you live with a leaky heart valve? If you have valve regurgitation or you know somebody who does, these questions have probably crossed your mind. After all, it is a heart condition.
Heart valve regurgitation occurs when blood flows back through one of the heart valves when the heart contracts. The problem, which can come on suddenly or develop gradually over time, can be serious, yet that isn’t always the case.
Sometimes, the valve leakage is minor and requires little to no treatment. Other times, the regurgitation is severe and places considerable strain on the heart. Then, leaking heart valve surgery and other treatments may be necessary. In general, the seriousness of a leaky heart valve depends upon the degree of regurgitation and how it interferes with the flow of blood through the heart and body.
Is a leaky heart valve life threatening?
For people asking “Is a leaky heart valve serious,” heart valve regurgitation can be fatal. When a heart valve leak is severe, the heart needs to work harder to pump the same amount of blood. It affects how blood is able to flow to the body’s organs. This can cause leaky heart valve symptoms (shortness of breath, fatigue, coughing, angina, palpitations, etc.) and potentially deadly complications.
Is a leaky heart valve life threatening? It can be if a person develops problems such as congestive heart failure, atrial fibrillation, blood clotting, edema, or pulmonary hypertension, which are all possible complications. Heart failure is the most common complication of heart valve regurgitation. It occurs when the heart muscle is unable to pump enough blood to meet the body’s requirements.
Infective endocarditis is another possible complication of heart valve regurgitation. This is an infection of the endocardium that can shorten leaking heart valve life expectancy and cause leaky heart valve death. It is caused by bacteria entering the bloodstream through activities such as tooth brushing and settling on the valves. People with leaking valves are more likely to develop endocarditis.
How long can you live with leaky heart valve?
It depends on the nature and severity of the condition and how it progresses. If the leaking valve or its components are severely damaged/malformed and there is a high degree of regurgitation and other heart problems, the risk of dangerous complications is higher. Regurgitation type also affects leaking heart valves life expectancy. For example, sudden death can occur with acute regurgitation.
Generally, complications worsen the prognosis with mitral regurgitation, aortic regurgitation, tricuspid regurgitation, and pulmonary valve regurgitation, especially with a leaking heart valve in elderly patients. Is a leaky heart valve serious? Sometimes. But, with leaky heart valve treatment, it is usually possible to increase life expectancy and improve quality of life, even with complications.
Valve regurgitation treatment can have a major impact on how long a person can live with a leaky heart valve. With mild regurgitation, medications can help to control the condition, but surgery is often necessary with severe regurgitation. Lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, exercising, and eating healthy are normally an important part of the treatment plan with all forms of regurgitation.
How is a leaky heart valve fixed?
Leaky heart valve surgery is the only way to fix a leaking heart valve. This typically involves undergoing open heart surgery, where a surgeon cuts open the sternum to repair or replace the regurgitating valve and its structures. However, minimally invasive heart valve surgery is becoming more and more common. It may be a better approach for some heart patients who qualify as candidates.
Potential benefits of minimally invasive heart surgery include a lower risk of infection, less blood loss, pain, and trauma, and a faster recovery and shorter hospital stay. In addition, surgical scars will typically be smaller and less noticeable. The downsides are that minimally invasive procedures tend to be more difficult to perform technically and may increase the risk of complications.
With valve regurgitation surgery, repair is usually the preferred option, as it offers advantages such as increased durability and freedom from lifelong drugs. In some cases, though, repair is not possible and/or valve replacement is appropriate. That is, the problem valve must be replaced with an artificial valve. Fortunately, the leaky heart valve surgery success rate is high with both options.
What else should you know about leaky heart valves?
While the survival rate is generally high with heart valve surgery, the timing of the surgery is significant. According to medical experts, people with leaky heart valves live longer when surgeons repair the regurgitation promptly. Nevertheless, every case is different and sometimes waiting may be beneficial. A cardiac specialist can help you to determine when surgery might benefit you most.
Many people with regurgitation want to know how to fix a leaky heart valve without surgery. While this is not possible, leaky heart valve treatment without surgery is. How is a leaky heart valve treated? Doctors can perform the MitraClip procedure for mitral regurgitation. This is useful for improving the leaking heart valve prognosis in elderly patients and those who have been denied surgery.
Medications like beta blockers, ACE inhibitors, and vasodilators can help with the management of mild regurgitation. Digoxin, anticoagulants, antiarrhythmics, and diuretics are also commonly prescribed. Drugs and procedures aside, following a diet low in salt, fat, and sugar has shown to be helpful. Is a leaky heart valve serious? Not always. But when it is, most people have treatment options.