Causes of valvular heart disease

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Valvular heart disease can be congenital or acquired. Acquired valvular heart disease can be caused by many factors. Until some years ago, most valvular heart disease was secondary to rheumatic fever. At the present time, in developed countries, the main cause of valvular heart disease is valve degeneration.

Valve degeneration is particularly related to age and can be of two types:

Valve degenerative calcification

Degenerative calcification. This involves the thickening of the cusps of the aortic or mitral valve.

Mixed valve disease

Myxomatous degeneration. This particularly affects the mitral valve. The valve cusps are excessively stretchy and protrude into the left atrium on each heartbeat. In most people, myxomatous mitral valve degeneration, known as mitral valve prolapse, does not lead to valve failure. However, in a small percentage of people, mitral valve prolapse can lead to significant mitral regurgitation.

In addition to valve degeneration, valvular heart disease may be secondary to infections such as endocarditis, rheumatic fever, or coronary artery disease. Sometimes it is not known what causes valvular heart disease.

Risk factors related to the development of valvular heart disease

Valve degenerative calcification

Age-related wear and calcification.

Heart and DNA

Congenital heart diseases.

Heart, bacteria and danger symbol

Streptococcal infections that lead to rheumatic fever.

Heart with a lightning bolt indicating pain or infection

Infection affecting the heart walls and valves, known as infective endocarditis.

Heart artery with an atheromatous plaque

Coronary artery disease.

Heart with a blocked artery causing a heart attack

Myocardial infarction (heart attack).

Substantiated information by:

Ander Regueiro Cueva
Bárbara Vidal Hagemeijer
Cesar Bernadó
Daniel Pereda

Published: 23 January 2020
Updated: 23 January 2020

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