Causes of Acquired Valve Disease

 

causes-of-heart-defects

The most common causes of heart valve disease include rheumatic fever, age-related changes, infections and other heart conditions and disorders. All these factors can change the shape and flexibility of the once normal valves. The following is a description of each one of the factors:

Heart Conditions

Certain heart conditions can lead to the distortion of the heart valves. They include:

  • Heart attack or heart injury can create scar tissue which can either lead to stenosis or insufficiency of a heart valve.
  • High blood pressure - Overtime, high blood pressure can lead to heart failure which causes the heart to enlarge. This may result in insufficiency of the heart valves as the valve openings are stretched.
  • Atherosclerosis - Generalized atherosclerotic processes have a strong positive correlation with valvular atherosclerotic changes. Valvular atherosclerosis causes the valve flaps to thicken and stiffen which limits the blood flow through the valve. Atherosclerotic changes most commonly affect the aortic valve.  

Age-related Changes

Elderly men and women tend to have calcium deposits develop on their heart valves. These deposits are quite similar to plaque caused by atherosclerosis. Just like atherosclerosis, this process primarily affects the aortic valve resulting in stenosis.

Rheumatic fever

Rheumatic fever is an inflammatory disease which usually follows streptococcal pharyngitis, or following other diseases which were caused by Streptococcus pyogenes. This disease causes the immune system to become sensitized to the body’s own proteins located in the heart, skin, joints, and brain. The antibodies that form to combat Streptococcus pyogenes can also cross react with heart muscle glycogen, cardiac myofiber protein (myosin), and smooth muscle cells. This can greatly damage the heart valves, causing the leaflets to thicken and fuse together (which may lead to valve stenosis). Rheumatic fever also affects tendinous cords by shortening and thickening them, which can result in valve insufficiency.

Roughly half of the patients with rheumatic fever also develop rheumatic valvulitis, which may lead to stenosis or insufficiency.

Infections

Bacteremia caused by an inflammatory process in some part of the body (usually gums) may lead to a serious complication known as infective endocarditis. Aortic and mitral valves are most commonly affected by infective endocarditis. However, people who acquire infective endocarditis as a result of using dirty needles, may also have right-sided endocarditis affecting the tricuspid valve.

Not only does infective endocarditis cause damage to the valves, the damaged valves themselves are a major risk factor for developing infective endocarditis.

Other conditions linked to heart valve disease

  • Autoimmune disorders (including lupus) can affect the heart valves.
  • Radiation therapy focused on the chest area can damage the heart valves. Usually, the person doesn’t develop symptoms until years after the therapy.
  • Carcinoid syndrome - Digestive tract tumors can spread through the venous system and affect the pulmonary and tricuspid valves.
  • Diet medicines - Diet pills that contain phentermine and fenfluramine have been linked to heart valve disease, and is the reason the production of fenfluramine was discontinued in 1997. In clinical trials these drugs resulted in thickening of the leaflets and chordae tendineae, and sometimes led to pulmonary hypertension.

Risk Factors

Risk factors include:

 

 Next Chapter: Symptoms of acquired valve disease

 

 
 
Featured Articles

Can Depression Cause a Heart Attack?

Can Depression Cause a Heart Attack?

Heart disease and depression are both very serious and common conditions. They affect millions of people worldwide, and sometimes occur...

Does living in the mountains improve the health of…

Does living in the mountains improve the health of your heart?

Mountains have always been associated with the idea of strength, beauty and magnificence.  Many people consider mountains a symbol of...

Breathing Exercises for Your Heart

Breathing Exercises for Your Heart

Everyone knows how good morning exercises are for our body and health, but we know very little about the benefits...

Can You Die from a Heart Attack During Sex?

Can You Die from a Heart Attack During Sex?

Sex is an important part of most couple’s relationship and life. Therefore, it is not surprising that some people worry...

Rare Causes of Hypertension

Rare Causes of Hypertension

Most likely you’ve heard about a condition called hypertension or high blood pressure. Nowadays, it is very common in a...

The C-Reactive Protein

The C-Reactive Protein

Blood tests are a great way to learn many things about the patient’s state of health and make a correct...

How do Positive Emotions Impact the Heart?

How do Positive Emotions Impact the Heart?

There are a huge number of factors that determine and impact the heart's wellbeing. These include diet, physical activity, lifestyle,...

Is Our Generation More Susceptible to Heart Diseas…

Is Our Generation More Susceptible to Heart Diseases?

Despite all the advancements of modern medicine, the number of people affected by cardiovascular diseases in developed countries is on...

How Bacterial Pneumonia Damages the Heart

How Bacterial Pneumonia Damages the Heart

Bacterial pneumonia is an infection that affects one or both of the lungs. It creates an inflammation of the alveoli...

The Best Cardio Exercises For Your Heart

The Best Cardio Exercises For Your Heart

What is the driving force behind our lives? Certainly, exercise is one of the things that come to mind. Not...

Are Heart Problems Hereditary?

Are Heart Problems Hereditary?

Heart disease is currently the world's leading cause of death. Heart disease is not just one condition but a combination...

Computers: Can They Harm Your Heart

Computers: Can They Harm Your Heart

Most young and middle-aged people nowadays are working in offices equipped with computers and laptops. These people spend a tremendous...

10 Rules of Life for Patients with Varicose Veins

10 Rules of Life for Patients with Varicose Veins

The term “varicose veins” most commonly refers to the veins in the lower extremities because such veins mostly develop in...

Can Regular Consumption of Coffee and Energy Drink…

Can Regular Consumption of Coffee and Energy Drinks Damage the Heart?

At times, we all feel sleepy, tired, and devoid of energy - right after getting up in the morning, in...

Can Lack of Sleep Cause Heart Disease?

Can Lack of Sleep Cause Heart Disease?

Life in a big city is hectic with everyone hurrying somewhere, always being late and getting stressed due to the...

Are Women Less Susceptible to Heart Disease?

Are Women Less Susceptible to Heart Disease?

It is a well-known fact that women tend to live longer than men1. We may ask what is the reason...


To learn more about Cardiology, we recommend the following websites:

AHA-logoACC logoWHOwhf logowikipedia

ok