Mitral stenosis is the narrowing of the mitral valve in the heart. Mitral stenosis can range from mild to severe. Stenosis does not always cause symptoms unless it is a severe case. In mild cases, treatment is not necessary but in severe cases, treatment is required. Severe mitral stenosis is a problem because blood flow is limited. When the whole body is not getting a sufficient amount of blood, you not only feel symptoms, but you also cause your heart to work harder. There are two main causes of mitral stenosis. In some cases, stenosis can be prevented, but if you feel any symptoms, you should see a physician.
Mitral stenosis does not initially cause symptoms but over time, it can get worse. Mitral stenosis is the narrowing of the mitral valve. The mitral valve is one of the four valves in the heart. The mitral valve is important because it allows blood to flow from the left atrium to the left ventricle. The valve is also called the bicuspid valve because it only contains two flaps. The structure of the valve is crucial to its function. When the pressure in the left atrium reaches a certain point, the valve opens allowing the blood to flow into the ventricle. The opening of the valve is not the only important function. The valve must also seal shut. If the valve does not seal shut blood will leak back into the atrium. This is also a problem, but it’s a totally separate issue from mitral stenosis.
In mitral valve stenosis, you may go from feeling completely fine to feeling faint. The symptoms of mitral valve stenosis range from mild to severe. In milder cases, symptoms include lightheadedness, weakness, and shortness of breath. These are all signs that the body is not getting enough oxygen. In more severe cases, you may cough up blood or have trouble breathing even at a rest. These signs need immediate attention. If you are coughing up blood, it may mean that blood vessels in the lungs are bursting as a result of stenosis and high blood pressure. It is possible for the cheeks to turn blue as well, which is a result of a lack of oxygen. Stenosis may also lead to heart attack or stroke, which are both serious conditions.
Mitral valve stenosis is diagnosed through a normal exam. At every doctor’s visit, the doctor listens to your heart and lungs. When they are listening to the heart, they may notice some abnormal beats. An abnormality in your heartbeat should be referred to a cardiologist. The next step is to do an echocardiogram. This machine does an ultrasound of the heart. It allows the doctor to hear and see what is going on in the heart. It confirms the source of the abnormal heartbeat. If it is mitral valve stenosis, the next thing to do is to figure out the severity of it. The doctor can see how much blood is flowing through the valve, and they can also examine how fast your heart is beating. If your heart is beating much faster than it should and you are also having symptoms, treatment is necessary.
Mitral valve stenosis is something you can be born with or something that is acquired. If a child is born with mitral valve stenosis, it is considered a congenital issue. Doctors will treat the problem immediately to make sure the baby is getting the blood and oxygen it needs to survive. Rheumatic fever may also cause mitral valve stenosis. Rheumatic fever comes from a bacterial infection that is not treated. Rheumatic fever can be avoided with antibiotics. The most common source of the bacteria is Streptococcus bacteria. This bacteria causes strep throat. You probably never thought strep throat could affect your heart, but if it is not treated it will lead to inflammation of the mitral valve and it may even scar the mitral valve. Both inflammation and scarring make the valve narrow. Mitral valve stenosis may also be a result of calcium deposits that build upon the valve. No matter the cause, treatment is available.
Treatment is dependent on the cause of the problem. If blood pressure is elevated, diuretics are used to produce more urine which will help decrease blood volume. If calcium deposits are the source, calcium channel blockers will be used in the form of medication. It slows down the heart rate as well. Blood clots may be a problem so anticoagulants may be used in conjunction with other medications. If symptoms progress, then surgery is the next step. In surgery, the valve is either repaired or replaced depending on the problem.
Mitral valve stenosis is not something that is extremely common. It is also something that can be avoided if you treat your strep throat immediately. If you are experiencing the symptoms of mitral valve stenosis, it is important to see your physician. Symptoms may be a result of the heart being overworked. No matter what is causing mitral valve stenosis, it can be treated. The heart is an important part of the body. It is necessary for us to take care of it. Do not ignore any heart-related symptoms. Seek medical attention immediately; it could save your life.
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