A healthy heart functions in such a way that it pumps blood sufficiently and enables blood to flow from the heart chambers into the other organs of the body.
Unfortunately, leaks can sometimes develop in the heart valves, impairing the forward flow of blood. Leaky heart valves, such as mitral regurgitation, cause blood to flow back into the heart, causing serious problems such as congestive heart failure; a condition characterized by the heart’s weakened ability to pump.
A person with a leaky heart valve may experience shortness of breath, light-headedness, palpitations and fatigue as well as fluid retention in legs and other parts of the body.
If you observe these symptoms, it is best to see your cardiologist to discuss treatment options for heart valve disease, which may include medication or heart surgery.
To know what causes heart valves to leak, it is important to understand how the heart works.
The heart consists of four chambers. The two upper chambers, called atria, receive blood. The two lower chambers, called ventricles, pump blood.
The heart uses four valves that open and close to let blood flow though a singular traffic. The mitral valve opens to let blood flow from the left atrium through the left ventricle. Then, it closes to stop the blood that just flowed through the left ventricle from flowing backward.
Unfortunately, there are instances when the flaps in the mitral valve do not close, causing blood to leak with every pump.
There can be several causes of mitral regurgitation, including mitral valve prolapse, a condition where the tendon-like cords in the mitral valves weaken and stretch, preventing the mitral valve from closing tightly and causing blood to leak.
Other heart conditions such as heart attack and congenital heart defects, as well as certain drugs and radiation therapy, may also cause heart valves to leak.
If your doctor diagnosed you with leaky heart valves, he may discuss treatment options, including heart surgery or medication.
During a mitral valve repair heart surgery, the doctor removes the portion of the mitral valve that no longer closes properly. The doctor then stitches the cut parts together.
Finally, the mitral heart valve heart surgery concludes with the doctor cinching down the circumference to plug the leak.
The safety and success rates of mitral regurgitation heart surgery have dramatically risen over the past decade.
In fact, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that getting a heart surgery for mitral valve repair within three months of being diagnosed increases survival by up to 45 percent.
The study shows that patients who seek heart surgery immediately instead of waiting for symptoms to show live longer and healthier lives.
You will be asked to stop smoking and stop taking blood thinning medications.
As with most surgeries, you will need to fast for 12 hours before the surgery. If you need to take medicines, you will be asked to do so with only small sips of water.
After the heart surgery, you may need to spend 3-5 days in the hospital.
Doctors and nurses will monitor your vital signs until all is back to normal and you are ready to go home. You will also be given pain relief medication for any severe chest pain.
Your doctors and nurses will give you post heart surgery home recovery instructions which you must follow. This may include avoiding activities that involve heavy lifting so as not to strain your chest area.
Remember, there is no longer a need to wait for symptoms to show before you can decide on a heart surgery to repair mitral valves. See your surgeon immediately and prolong the health of your heart.