How do you take care of your heart after 40?
As you find yourself hitting 40, you may start thinking about health issues you previously didn’t concern yourself with. Should heart health be one of them?
Many people may not notice any symptoms, and you may not know you have mitral valve prolapse until a doctor hears a heart murmur or a “clicking” sound when listening to your heart. If this happens to you, your doctor may order an echocardiogram to further examine your heart for mitral valve prolapse.
Symptoms of various mitral valve diseases include:
Besides an echocardiogram, tests to help diagnose mitral valve diseases include electrocardiograms (EKG, ECG) to look for abnormal heart rhythms, chest X-rays to examine heart size and cardiac catheterization.
Mitral valve diseases have many causes. Some forms can even arise as congenital heart defects present at birth.
Mitral valve regurgitation can be caused by a problem with the anatomy of the mitral valve, making it unable to close tightly. This can happen because of different issues, such as calcium buildup on the valve, but it can also be caused by mitral valve prolapse. Mitral valve prolapse is caused by a physical change in the valve, such as thickening or abnormal shapes, but the cause for these physical changes isn’t known.
Mitral valve regurgitation can also be caused by another heart problem, such as heart failure, that causes the valve to not close tightly enough. Acute mitral valve regurgitation, which develops quickly and can be life-threatening, happens when the valve or tissues near it rupture suddenly, causing blood to build up quickly in the left side of the heart. Heart attack and endocarditis can cause acute mitral valve regurgitation.
Mitral valve stenosis is nearly always caused by rheumatic fever, which results from an untreated strep infection. Many people who have mitral valve stenosis, however, don’t know that they ever had rheumatic fever.