ABOUT THE PULMONARY VALVE
The pulmonary valve directs blood flow from the right lower chamber (right ventricle) into the main pulmonary artery, which splits into two arteries so that the blood from the body can get to both lungs. Pulmonary valve disease is a condition in which the pulmonary valve doesn't function properly.
Pulmonary Valve Conditions
The following congenital heart conditions most commonly affect the pulmonary valve.
- Pulmonary Atresia
A condition where the pulmonary valve is abnormal and does not open like it should. This means that blood cannot go to the lungs to pick up oxygen.
- Tetralogy of Fallot
A condition which refers to four heart defects that usually occur together; a hole between the right and left pumping chambers of the heart (ventricles), a narrowed path between the heart and the lungs, an artery (aorta) that is connected to the heart closer to the right side of the heart than normal, and a thicker than normal pumping chamber (ventricle) on the right side of the heart.
- Double Outlet Right Ventricle
A condition in which both main arteries, one that carries blood to the lungs (main pulmonary artery) and one that carries blood to the rest of the body (aorta), are connected to the right lower chamber of the heart (ventricle). Usually, the aorta is connected to the left lower chamber of the heart.
Treatment for These Conditions
Children and adults with these conditions have narrowed pulmonary valves and may need surgery for placement of a right ventricular outflow tract (RVOT) pulmonary conduit or surgical valve. A pulmonary conduit is a tube that connects the heart to the lungs.
Pulmonary Valve Failure
Over time, mineral deposits (calcification) may build up on the conduit or surgical valve, and it may become narrowed and/or leaky. This may happen as you outgrow the conduit or surgical valve, as they wear out from the pressures of pumping blood, or from calcium build up.
- A Narrowed Conduit or Valve (Stenosis)
The conduit or valve opening is narrowed, which limits blood flow from the heart to the lungs and forces the heart to work harder than normal. Stenosis may be caused by a build up of minerals on the outflow tract walls (calcification). Stenosis can make the heart muscle thick and prevent it from working well. It can also limit the amount of blood pumped to the lungs.
- A Leaky Conduit or Valve (Regurgitation)
The conduit or surgical valve does not have a properly working valve which causes blood to leak backward into the right lower chamber of the heart (ventricle). This causes the heart to pump harder than it should to bring blood to the lungs and the rest of your body.
Symptoms of Pulmonary Valve Conduit Failure
- Becoming tired or short of breath with activity
- Feeling tired, dizzy or too weak to do your normal activities
- Irregular heartbeats or the feeling that your heart is racing or pounding in your chest
- Fainting or near fainting
Symptoms can range from mild to severe. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, talk with your heart doctor. Regular check-ups and testing can help determine how your pulmonary valve conduit is working.
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