Rheumatic heart disease (RHD) is a chronic heart condition. It occurs as a result of rheumatic fever (RF). The valves of the heart that are most commonly affected by RHD are, in order, mitral, aortic, tricuspid, and pulmonary. In most cases, the mitral valve is involved with one or more of the other three valves.
One example of the life-threatening conditions that can develop for individuals with RHD is aortic valve stenosis/regurgitation. The aortic valve allows the blood flow from the left ventricle to the aorta: when this valve does not open or close properly (stenosis), or leaks blood backwards (regurgitation), there is increased pressure in the heart, which leads to heart damage.
What causes aortic stenosis/regurgitation?
- Rheumatic fever / rheumatic heart disease
- Calcium deposits on heart valves (age related)
- Congenital disorders
What are the symptoms?
- Chest pain
- Fainting attacks
- Noticeable heartbeats
- Feeling extremely tired during routine activities
- Initially, it’s possible to have no symptoms at all
What about children, any special symptoms?
- Failure to gain weight
- Poor feeding
- Breathing problems
- Decreased crying/playing
I have some of these symptoms. What tests and appointments should I make with my doctor?
- Detailed clinical examination
- Chest X-ray, ECG, echo and cardiac catheterization
How is aortic stenosis/regurgitation treated?
- For no symptoms or mild symptoms: through regular monitoring
- For more progressed cases:
- Balloon aortic valvuloplasty (a procedure that widens the narrowed valve using a balloon catheter)
- Aortic valve repair/replacement surgery
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