Overview and Facts about Pulmonic Valve Disorders
Pulmonic valve disorders, also known as pulmonary valve disease, is a heart condition characterized by a dysfunctional pulmonary valve. The pulmonary valve regulates blood flow between your right heart ventricle and your pulmonary artery and lungs. Pulmonic valve disorders can compromise or reduce blood flow through the heart and to the lungs, which results in a reduced flow of oxygen-rich blood to the rest of the body.
Signs and Symptoms of Pulmonic Valve Disorders
Signs and symptoms of pulmonic valve disorders vary with the type and cause of the disorder. For example, pulmonic valve disorders caused by bacterial endocarditis are often accompanied by a fever, while pulmonary valve stenosis may only be accompanied by mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. However, in either case, a heart murmur or abnormal heart rhythm may be heard during a routine heart exam. This and other signs and symptoms may be more noticeable during or immediately after exercise.
In severe cases, signs and symptoms may include:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting
- Poor appetite
- Failed weight gain or failure to thrive (in infants)
- Heart palpitations or flutters
- Rapid weight gain (in adults)
- Heart attack
Causes and Risk Factors of Pulmonic Valve Disorders
Pulmonic valve disorders are typically present at birth or develop during pregnancy. However, the heart tissue may be weakened or degenerated by aging, which can cause symptoms to develop. Severe health events, such as heart attack, lupus and/or radiation therapy for cancer, can also cause pulmonic valve tissue damage and disorders. Taking some medications, like methysergide, can also cause or lead to pulmonic valve symptoms.
Other causes and risk factors include:
- Health disorders, such as syphilis and rheumatoid arthritis
- Family history of pulmonic valve disorders
- Bacterial endocarditis, or bacterial infection of the heart muscles
- Rheumatic fever and inflammation
Tests and Diagnosis of Pulmonic Valve Disorders
Several procedures are used to test for and diagnose pulmonic valve disorders. These may include:
- Listening with a stethoscope to detect a heart murmur caused by a pulmonic valve disorder
- Echocardiogram and/or electrocardiogram to examine the form and structure of the heart
- MRI and/or chest x-ray to diagnose pulmonic valve disorders
- Cardiac catheterization to help perform many procedures, including an examination of the heart arteries, measurement of oxygen levels in the heart and measurement of pressure and blood flow through the heart.
Treatment and Care for Pulmonic Valve Disorders
There are several ways to treat pulmonic valve disorders, depending on their cause. For example, antibiotics can treat bacterial endocarditis while medications like aspirin may be used to prevent the formation of blood clots. Balloon dilatation can expand the arteries and increase blood flow while valve surgery may be needed to repair or replace a damaged pulmonary valve.
Severe symptoms may be prevented in some cases through:
- Avoiding smoke and/or quitting smoking
- Reducing stress
- Safely using medication
- Reducing salt intake