If you suffer from Pulmonary Valve Disease, the valve that sits between the right ventricle of your heart and the main artery supplying blood to your lungs doesn’t function correctly. Either the valve doesn’t open far enough to move a sufficient amount of blood, or it doesn’t open at all.
Most people with pulmonary valve disease are born with it; this is called pulmonary valve stenosis. Adults can develop pulmonary valve disease following an infection of the heart’s lining that damages the valve, or after contracting rheumatic fever.
Symptoms of pulmonary valve disease may be mild initially and become more severe over time. You may have signs that include shortness of breath, fatigue, dizziness and fainting, and chest pain. Children with the disease may develop a blue tint to their skin because they aren’t getting enough oxygen, and babies who have it might not gain weight appropriately. Some patients also have heart murmurs or other heart beat irregularities.
Mild cases of pulmonary valve disease may not require any treatment unless symptoms worsen. However, it’s important to keep a close eye on the function of the heart and lungs. Your doctor may order tests, including an echocardiogram or magnetic resonance imaging scan (MRI), to show exactly what state the valve is in and how much damage is present.
Medications that increase blood flow and prevent clots may be important parts of your treatment plan. Some doctors will also prescribe a diuretic that prevents buildup of fluid in the lungs.
Surgical options to improve the valve’s function can also help. A valvuloplasty stretches the walls of the pulmonary valve to increase capacity for blood flow. It works much like an angioplasty procedure on a heart valve, where a tiny balloon is inserted into the artery and inflated. In cases of severe damage to the valve, a valve replacement may be advisable.