Valves of the heart can become blocked creating issues in blood flow. The heart contains four valves which are important for directing the flow of blood. The blood flows through the heart in one direction. It is not a two-way street. The valves act as gates to keep the blood from going backward and helps move the blood forward. A blockage in the valve of the heart can hinder blood flow which can lead to serious health conditions.
The heart contains four chambers. The upper chambers of the heart are called the atria, and the lower chambers are called the ventricles. The blood flows from the rest of the body to the heart, lungs, back to the heart, and finally again to the rest of the body. The lungs and heart are connected. When the blood is returning to the heart, it requires oxygen. It first enters the right atrium and then flows into the right ventricle. Here is where the first valve is located. This valve is called the tricuspid valve. It sits between the right atrium and right ventricle. After leaving the right ventricle, the blood flows into the lungs, but first through the pulmonary valve, where it receives oxygen.
Once it is repackaged with oxygen, it returns to the heart through the left atrium. Now valve number three comes in place. The Mitral valve lies between the left atrium and the left ventricle. The mitral valve opens to allow blood to flow into the left ventricle. Finally, the blood is ready to be transported to the rest of the body but requires one more valve. The last valve is the aortic valve. The aortic valve allows blood to enter the aorta which is then transferred to the rest of the body.
Valves contain leaflets that are like doors for the valves. These leaflets open only in one direction. When blood fills up one chamber of the heart, the valves open allowing it into the next chamber. If there is a blockage in the valves, blood can either get stuck, or the flow of blood becomes limited. This is a serious problem because it can lead to heart attacks, stroke, and blood clots. Heart attacks are a lack of blood flow to the heart. It chokes the heart and causes a lot of tightness and pain. Strokes are a lack of blood flow to the brain. It leads to numbness and a lot of muscle weakness. The blood naturally clots, but it should never clot while it is flowing through the body. Blood clots are necessary when you get a cut of some sort. It keeps you from bleeding constantly. If the body has some blockage, the blood may start clotting improperly.
Causes of Blocked Heart Valves
Blocked valves can be a result of many different things. The blockage may be a malfunction in the valves, or it could be a result of poor diet and cholesterol build-up in the arteries. If the valves do not open and close properly, blood cannot flow. In the case of regurgitation or aortic valve stenosis, the valves do not function properly. Stenosis is the narrowing of aortic valves. Regurgitation is when the valves do not close all the way allowing for blood to go backward. Both disorders result in heart problems and possibly heart disease. Valves may also be blocked as a result of poor diet. This is one of the main causes of heart attacks. When you eat poorly and consume food high in cholesterol, your body is unable to store it. The cholesterol builds up in your arteries creating a blockage. The blockage may be located near the valves which then prevents the valves from operating properly. Blood clots may be a result of the blockage, but they can also create a blockage. When the blood clots, it makes barriers in the arteries.
Symptoms of a Blocked Valve
Symptoms of blockage include fatigue and shortness of breath. More severe symptoms include fainting or chest pain. Many people do not notice any symptoms until they are actually in the middle of a heart attack or stroke. At this point, you need immediate medical attention.
Blockage should be monitored and treated before it lands you in a hospital. In the case of valve problems, a blockage can be treated with aortic valve repair or the complete replacement of the aortic valve. When blood clots are involved, the blockage is managed through blood thinners. If blood clots are too large, it may require surgery. When plaque builds up due to poor diet, medications may be the best form of treatment. Sometimes just a simple change in diet makes all the difference. When heart attacks result, surgery is usually the first method of choice. There may be blockages in multiple areas of the heart. Treatment is mainly dependent on the source of the blockage.
Valve blockage is a serious condition that needs to be addressed quickly. It is sometimes difficult to recognize blockage in the valves or heart, but if you notice any changes in your breathing or energy levels, you may need to see a physician. Most people fail to notice the symptoms until they are experiencing extreme pain and discomfort. Paying attention to your health is important. If your blood pressure is high or your cholesterol levels are elevated, you are at risk of blockage either in your valves or heart. Take care of yourself first by eating a good diet. Keeping your heart strong and healthy will prevent plaque buildup and allow you to live a long life.
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