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Leaky Heart Valve Symptoms – A Heart Valve Regurgitation Overview

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Leaky heart valve symptoms

Experiencing bothersome leaky heart valve symptoms?

Leaky heart valve symptoms are common with heart valve regurgitation. The condition, in which blood refluxes back through the heart’s valves when it beats, can be life threatening. Thus, it is important to know the symptoms of heart valve problems.

Symptoms can occur with aortic valve regurgitation, pulmonary regurgitation, tricuspid regurgitation, and mitral valve regurgitation. While they can vary in frequency and intensity, symptoms tend to be similar in nature with each type of leaky heart valve.

Most of the time, intense valvular heart problem symptoms occur when the condition is severe and acute. That is, one will experience symptoms when there is a high degree of regurgitation with complications. This isn’t always the case, though, and people with dangerous valve regurgitation can be asymptomatic. Still, symptoms often indicate that is something is wrong inside the body.

Leaky heart valve symptoms

What are the leaky heart valve symptoms with regurgitation?

Aortic regurgitation symptoms

Aortic valve regurgitation – also known as aortic valve insufficiency and aortic valve incompetence –affects the aortic valve. The valvular heart disease and malfunction occurs when the aortic heart valve does not shut completely and tightly when the heart beats. This is due to a physical abnormality with the valve and/or its structures, which allows blood to regurgitate into the left ventricle.

Regurgitation of the aortic valve can be acute or chronic. Acute aortic insufficiency is often a medical emergency. It may require urgent open-heart aortic valve replacement surgery. Chronic aortic regurgitation may also require aortic valve replacement but leaking develops over time. Minimally invasive transcatheter aortic valve replacement may be appropriate for some patients.

With acute aortic regurgitation, blood volume and filling pressure increase in the left ventricle rapidly and left atrium chamber pressure rises. This leads to pulmonary edema (a condition wherein fluid accumulates in the lungs) and causes breathing difficulties. There may also be an aortic regurgitation murmur on auscultation that accompanies bothersome leaky heart valve symptoms.

In chronic aortic regurgitation, the left ventricle gradually dilates as a compensation response to blood volume overload, returning increased filling pressures to normal for at least some period of time. At this point, there may be no aortic regurgitation signs. But, as pressures inevitably increase again, the left ventricle eventually malfunctions. Then, there may be aortic insufficiency symptoms.

The main symptom of a leaky aortic valve is shortness of breath (dyspnea). It may occur with coughing at night (paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea), when lying flat (orthopnea), and/or with exertion. Swollen ankles and feet, fatigue, and heart palpitations, as well as anginal chest pain and discomfort, are also common. Other symptoms include anxiety, sweating, fainting, hemoptysis, and cyanosis.

Pulmonary regurgitation symptoms

Pulmonary valve regurgitation (also pulmonary valve insufficiency and pulmonary valve incompetence) affects the pulmonary or pulmonic valve. The pulmonary heart disease occurs when the pulmonary heart valve is abnormal in some way and does not close properly in the diastole phase of the cardiac cycle. This allows blood to regurgitate into the right ventricle from the pulmonary artery.

Regurgitation of the pulmonary valve, like regurgitation of the aortic valve, can be of an acute or chronic nature. Some individuals require pulmonary valve repair and/or replacement surgery. However, pulmonary valve replacement is relatively uncommon, especially among adults. In general, pulmonary insufficiency is rare. When it does develop, it is usually due to a congenital heart disease.

The leaky heart valve symptoms of pulmonic regurgitation depend on the severity of the condition, as well as its cause. Trace PR and mild pulmonary valve regurgitation are considered harmless and normally do not cause any symptoms. Yet, in some people, the degree of backflow is significant and can cause right ventricular enlargement and symptomatic right-sided heart failure.

Complications arising from pulmonary valve repair surgery for tetralogy of Fallot is the main cause of severe pulmonic valve regurgitation. It can also be caused by infective endocarditis and carcinoid syndrome. Pulmonary hypertension is another common cause of pulmonary insufficiency, where one might have above normal pulmonary artery pressure and pulmonary hypertension symptoms.

Symptoms of a leaky pulmonary valve include fatigue, dyspnea, and angina, heart palpitations, ascites, and swelling of the ankles, legs, and feet. Lightheadedness, syncope, and cyanosis are other symptoms. Loss of appetite and right-sided abdominal pain can occur. Symptoms may accompany signs such as nocturia, jugular vein distention, and a pulmonary regurgitation murmur.

Tricuspid regurgitation symptoms

Tricuspid valve regurgitation affects the tricuspid valve. The tricuspid heart valve, when damaged or abnormal, allows blood from the right ventricle chamber to reflux into the right atrium. This occurs because the valve does not create a tight seal in the last stage of the cardiac cycle. Tricuspid regurgitation is also called tricuspid valve insufficiency and tricuspid valve incompetence.

Regurgitation of the tricuspid valve presents as acute or chronic and can be primary or secondary. Primary tricuspid regurgitation involves the leaflets and chordae. It results from myxomatous degeneration, endocarditis, congenital defects, and the like. Secondary tricuspid regurgitation involves dilation of the valve’s annulus and is caused by problems such as pulmonary hypertension.

According to experts, approximately 70 percent of adults have tricuspid valve regurgitation. However, in most individuals, the degree of regurgitation is insignificant. People with trivial or trace tricuspid regurgitation and mild tricuspid regurgitation rarely have any leaky heart valve symptoms. Those with moderate to severe tricuspid insufficiency may experience symptoms and complications.

The signs and symptoms of moderate and severe tricuspid valve regurgitation include swelling of the abdomen, peripheral edema (foot, leg, and ankle swelling), tiredness, and poor liver function with jaundice – symptoms of right heart failure. There may also be pulsing of the neck’s jugular veins, a tricuspid regurgitation heart murmur, and shortness of breath with exercise and exertion.

When severe and moderate tricuspid regurgitation produce symptoms and complications, tricuspid valve repair or tricuspid valve replacement surgery is often necessary. Treating any underlying disorders is normally the first step, though. For those with mild and trivial tricuspid regurgitation who are symptomatic, certain drugs and lifestyle changes may alleviate leaky valve symptoms.

Mitral regurgitation symptoms

Mitral valve regurgitation (mitral valve insufficiency/mitral valve incompetence) is characterized by the backflow of blood through the mitral valve into the left atrium from the left ventricle. As with other types of heart valve regurgitation, the mitral valve leak occurs due to an abnormality with the valve or its structures. Mitral valve prolapse is the number one cause of mitral regurgitation.

Regurgitation of the mitral (bicuspid) valve is the most common heart valve disease. It can be primary (organic), involving physiological problems with the bicuspid valve, or it can be secondary, arising from left ventricle dysfunction. Secondary mitral valve regurgitation is sometimes called functional mitral valve regurgitation. Mitral insufficiency can also be acute or chronic and vary in severity.

Acute mitral regurgitation typically produces signs and symptoms of congestive heart failure, such as dyspnea, pulmonary edema, and fatigue, coughing, dizziness, and an irregular heartbeat. The leaky heart valve symptoms tend to be severe, and shortness of breath may worsen with activity and when lying flat. There may be a mitral regurgitation murmur and symptoms of cardiogenic shock.

With chronic mitral regurgitation, mitral valve regurgitation symptoms may be present initially, but these may dissipate as the heart naturally compensates for insufficiency by enlarging the left ventricle and the left atrium. Over time, however, there will be decompensation, resulting in left ventricle dysfunction and the development of leaky valve congestive heart failure symptoms and atrial fibrillation.

For acute and severe mitral regurgitation, mitral valve surgery is usually the preferred treatment option, specifically mitral valve repair surgery or mitral valve replacement surgery. Lifestyle changes and medications (vasodilators, diuretics, and antiarrhythmics like beta blockers, etc.) are the first-choice treatments for chronic and mild mitral regurgitation, but heart surgery may be necessary.

Is leaky heart valve weight gain a regurgitation symptom?

Yes, leaky heart valve weight gain is one of many known symptoms of heart disease involving the heart valves. Common with aortic valve regurgitation, pulmonary regurgitation, and mitral and tricuspid regurgitation, it occurs when fluid accumulates abnormally in the body. This fluid retention, or edema, results from the leakage of lymph fluid and blood from capillaries due to valve dysfunction.

The weight gain that a leaky heart valve sometimes causes tends to affects certain parts of the body. It can become noticeable very suddenly with valve regurgitation, presenting as swelling of the ankles, feet, and legs, as well as the hands, wrists, and abdomen. There may also be other symptoms of edema. When fluid accumulates in the lungs, there will normally be respiratory symptoms.

With leaky heart valve weight gain, increases of two to three pounds of weight in 24 hours and five or more pounds in a week are not unusual. The weight gain and swelling may accompany stretched or shiny skin and skin that retains dimples (pits) when pressed. Ascites, which affects the abdomen, may cause pain, bloating, and nausea and vomiting, in addition to leaky heart valve symptoms.

How serious is a leaky heart valve?

Heart valve regurgitation, like other heart valve problems and heart conditions, can be serious. Trace regurgitation and mild regurgitation are generally benign. But, when valve regurgitation is severe, placing significant strain on the heart and other organs and systems in the body, then there may be frightening and disturbing symptoms. One may also develop life-threatening complications.

Is a leaky heart valve serious? Sometimes it is. It depends on the affected individual’s circumstances. Complications of severe regurgitation commonly result in leaky heart valve surgery. They can lead to leaky heart valve death. A severely leaking heart valve in elderly patients that considerably impairs aortic, pulmonary, mitral, and/or tricuspid valve function is particularly dangerous.

In cases of regurgitation where heart valve surgery is required to fix a leaky valve, open heart surgery is the standard approach. It can be heart valve repair surgery or heart valve replacement surgery, depending on the problem. For those too ill or frail for open surgery, minimally invasive heart valve surgery is sometimes an option. It’s also possible to fix a leaky heart valve without surgery.

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