Feeling breathlessness while doing any activity? It might be a sign of Valvular Heart Disease

By Dr Praveen Chandra

A middle-aged lady was admitted in the hospital in severe condition, experiencing breathlessness since past few days especially while doing any household activities. After a thorough check up, an urgent echocardiogram test was suggested. Through the test, it was identified that her mitral valve in the heart was leaking. Looking into her condition and age, a clipping procedure known as Mitraclip procedure were performed. After this procedure, she was feeling much better and was discharged from the hospital within 2 days. MitraClip is a small device that is delivered to the heart through a catheter inserted through a blood vessel in the leg or groin. Once in place, the device clips together the leaking area of the mitral valve, reducing the amount of blood that flows backward through the valve.

Heart valve disease is a very common problem these days. Earlier, it was only witnessed in elder patients but now, there is an increase in number of young patients coming with heart valve diseases like aortic stenosis, mitral valve regurgitation, mitral valve stenosis etc. The most common type of heart valve disease is aortic valve disease or severe aortic stenosis in which the aortic valve become narrow and restrict blood flow from the heart to the body. The other common heart valve condition is the leakage of the mitral valve also known as mitral valve regurgitation in which a valve starts leaking that allows blood to flow back into the left atrium of the heart. The valves control the flow of blood into and out of the heart’s chambers, and if they do not function properly, it leads to a range of symptoms and complications in the heart and even become life threatening if not treated on time.

There are certain noticeable symptoms that should be addressed immediately if observed:

  • Shortness of breath especially while conducting any physical activity
  • Tightness in chest or chest pain
  • Increased heart rate or palpitations
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Dizziness and fainting during physical activities
  • Unexplained weight loss and fatigue
  • Loss of appetite (Especially in children having aortic stenosis)

Valvular heart disease can be caused by a variety of factors, including congenital defects, infections, and degeneration due to aging etc. Treatment options depend on the type and severity of the disease and may include medication, surgery, or other interventions. With high-risk patients, especially patients who are above 65 years of age requires minimally invasive interventions since the risk is very high in traditional open-heart surgery. Hence, for these patients’ treatment options like TAVI, TAVR, Mitraclip procedures are the safest option.

Valvular heart disease is one of the most common and life-threatening cardiovascular diseases throughout the globe. In India, this condition is seen more commonly among older people. However, since past decade, the world is undergoing a major shift in the ratio of age and disease burden and younger populations even in India now has become more vulnerable towards developing cardiovascular disorder and the mortality rates are exponentially high especially after the pandemic. People with comorbidities such as Diabetes, Cholesterol, Hypertension etc. are even at an elevated risk of developing aortic stenosis.

With the innovations of newer, safer and advanced surgical procedures, now, valvular heart disease can be treated with the minimally invasive procedures. Technological interventions has significantly lowered the risks that were much higher in open heart surgery. Procedures like TAVI, TAVR, Mitraclip ensures much more improved outcomes, quality of life post-surgery, shorter hospital stay and quicker recovery.

(The author is an Interventional Cardiologist, Heart Institute, Medanta. The article is for informational purposes only. Please consult medical experts and health professionals before starting any therapy, medication and/or remedy. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the FinancialExpress.com.)