In Southeast Asia, heart valve disease is a common condition that affects many people as they age. Sometimes the condition may spring from the fact that the heart valves are not working as efficiently as they should.
Sufferers may experience difficulty in breathing or discomfort when doing routine tasks. They may also feel extremely tired from doing simple tasks such as climbing stairs. Without proper understanding of heart valve diseases, sufferers may attribute these experiences to the natural process of ageing. However, it’s important to realize that there could be an underlying heart condition requiring more serious attention.
What Are the Symptoms of Heart Valve Disease?
When a heart is not performing at its optimal state, it may not be able to pump blood — and oxygen — to other parts of the body effectively. Check to see if you experience any of these symptoms1, and discuss with your doctor about the possibility of them being signs of an unhealthy heart :
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Fatigue (low energy)
- Lightheadedness, feeling dizzy, and/or fainting
- Difficulty when exercising
- Swollen ankles and feet
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
Do not take these symptoms lightly as they may reflect a more serious problem that requires medical attention. Seek a doctor’s advice as soon as you experience any of these symptoms.
Congenital defect: Some babies are born with the condition which affects the anatomy and the functions of the heart.
Family history: It is common for heart valve disease to affect families with a history of this condition.
Infection or inflammation: Scar tissue formed in the heart as a result of a previous infection or inflammation can limit the valves’ ability to open and close effectively.
Age: The ageing process may take a toll on our heart valve muscles, making them weak or damaged. This is why heart valve diseases are more common among the elderly.
Mayo Clinic Staff. www.mayoclinic.com http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/aortic-stenosis/basics/symptoms/con-20026329. Accessed August 12, 2016.
Alliance for Aging Research. Aortic Stenosis: Under-Diagnosed and Under-Treated. 2010. https://www.agingresearch.org/newsletters/view/36. Accessed August 12, 2016.
Nishimura RA, Otto CM, Bonow RO et al. 2014 AHA/ACC Guideline for the management of patients with valvular heart disease: Executive summary. Circulation 2014; 10;129:2440–92.
Bouma BJ, van den Brink RBA, van der Meulen JHP et al. To operate or not on elderly patients with aortic stenosis: the decision and its consequences. Heart 1999 Aug; 82: 143–8.
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