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Valvular Heart Disease
Valvular heart disease is a dysfunction or abnormality of one or more of the hearts four valves that include the mitral valve and aortic valve on the left side, and the tricuspid valve and pulmonary valve on the right side. In a normal heart, four valves permit the flow of blood in one direction and only at the right times. These valves act as gates that allow the flow of blood through and then shut tightly until the next cycle begins (1).
It is important to understand the functioning of heart valves before understanding the valvular heart disease. The deoxygenated blood from various parts of the body flows into the upper right chamber of the heart (right atrium) wherein it is forced into the lower right chamber (right ventricle) through the tricuspid valve. The right ventricle then pumps the blood through the pulmonary valve into the lungs while simultaneously closing the tricuspid valve. In the lungs, oxygen is absorbed by the blood and this oxygen rich blood is returned to the upper left chamber (left atrium). Blood from left atrium is forced into the lower left chamber (left ventricle) through mitral valve. The left ventricle pumps this oxygenated blood out of heart to the various parts of the body through aortic valve simultaneously closing the mitral valve. The pumping of blood from heart to lungs and heart to various parts of the body takes place at same time (2).
About 20,000 people die annually in the US from Valvular heart disease. About 63 percent of cases pertain to aortic valve disease, 14 percent of the cases are mitral valve disease, pulmonary valve disease and tricuspid valve disorder deaths account for 0.06 percent and 0.01 percent respectively (1).
Article by Kona Vishnu, MS
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