Heart murmurs, and leaky valves. Both are problems that a cardiac stress test can detect. But, why do they happen? Bad genetics? Bad lifestyle?
Matt Breen, Reporting, "Last time on Heart Health, we talked about heart murmurs. And, we know that a murmur is caused by a valve being too leaky, or too tight. What would cause a valve to be too leaky, or too tight?"
Dr. Ramin Artang, Mercy Cardiology says, "There are several different for a heart to have that problem. For kids, they could be born with it. But, the most common one is for wear and tear. The person gets it much later in life. Just the fact that the heart beats 100,000 times a day. And, in an entire life of 70, or 80, years, imagine how many times. So, that wears on the valve structure."
Matt Breen, Reporting, "Regardless of whether the valves are too tight or too leaky, how do we deal with that?"
Dr. Ramin Artang, Mercy Cardiology says, "The first thing we do... usually the person is told by their doctor that they have a murmur, and they might want it examined. So, the first exam is an echocardiogram after, of course, you listen to the patient. That echocardiogram shows the thickness of the valve, and how well it moves. And, it also shows the flow, and whether the blood is moving in the right direction. By echocardiogram alone, we classify these conditions as being mild, moderate or severe. A person with mild disease has nothing to worry about. But, once it's moderate, it needs to be followed from time to time, once or twice a year, or every few years to make sure it stays at the same level, and doesn't get any worse. The severe one is the one that needs the most attention."
Matt Breen, Reporting, "Especially if they're symptomatic. What symptoms would be shown if you have valves that are leaky or tight?"
Dr. Ramin Artang, Mercy Cardiology says, "Primary symptoms of bad valve disease is shortness of breath. The person will have shortness of breath. It's only when you're physically exerting yourself, like shoveling snow, or something like that. maybe going up stairs. But, later on, it also happens at rest, and especially when you lay down at night, and it sort of wakes you up because of the shortness of breath. These people will go to their doctor and say, 'Doc, I can't breathe.' especially at night. And, one of the conditions may be this."
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