The human heartshowhide heart defect

The human heart

Possible heart defects


Valvular heart defects

What is it?

There are two basic forms of valvular heart defects: Constricted valve (stenosis) and leaking valve (regurgitation).  

In the case of valvular stenosis, insufficient blood flows through the valve; the heart muscle must therefore continuously exert more force to maintain circulation. In the case of regurgitation, the valve does not close properly; the blood flows back into the ventricle or atrium, which are thus subjected to excessive stress. 

How do the defects develop?

Most valvular heart defects are acquired over the course of a lifetime due to wear and tear or due to an inflammation; in a few cases, they are congenital.

How are the defects treated?

Depending on which heart valve is affected in which way, the defective heart valve can be restored (reconstruction) or replaced by an artificial valve. However, a minimally invasive catheter technique is increasingly being used.

Here, a catheter is advanced from the inguinal area to the heart via the blood vessels. In the case of valve stenosis, either a collapsible prosthesis sewn into a stent can be advanced via the catheter and put into place, or the valve can be expanded by means of a special balloon catheter

The widening of the valves is often used in children with congenital heart valve stenosis to gain time before they can undergo surgery. It is also used for palliative medical purposes in older people with stenosis of the heart valves (e.g. due to calcification).