God has gifted us with the ‘reserve’ in each organ. If there is mild to moderate valvular disease, the patient does not experience any specific problem in majority cases. The following symptoms may be observed when the valve becomes moderate to severely diseased :
- Shortness of breath while doing exertion.
- Easy fatigue, feeling of weakness.
- Feeling one’s heartbeats in the chest – palpitation.
- Squeezing in the chest.
- Heaviness – pain in the right upper abdominal part.
- Swelling of legs.
- Sudden onset of weakness of one part or side of the body causing paralysis.
- Sudden onset of abdominal pain.
Valve means a gate. There are two or three leaflets or cusps in valve. The function of the valve is to open and close.
If the cusps of valves become thick and brittle, the valve cannot open properly. This is called as ‘stenosis’, meaning narrowing of the valve. Blood cannot flow in the reverse direction after the valve closes. If the valve does not close properly or if the edges of its cusps do not match with each other properly, a gap is left in between. As a result of this, the blood flows in the reverse direction. This is called ‘regurgitation’, meaning leakage of the valve. In order to understand the seriousness of both these illnesses, they are divided into mild, moderate and severe varieties or grades 1 to 4.