Congenital heart disease (CHD) is the most common birth defect, affecting almost 1% of babies born each year.1 Most heart defects are present at birth, caused by the heart not developing the way it should during pregnancy. Some of these defects affect the heart valves.
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 heart can get to both lungs. Pulmonary valve disease is a condition in which the pulmonary valve doesn't function properly.
The following congenital heart disease (CHD) conditions most commonly affect the pulmonary valve:
If you have a congenital heart condition that affected your pulmonary valve, this may have required a procedure early in life to help blood flow to the lungs, leaving you with a native or surgically-repaired right ventricular outflow tract.
After having one of these procedures, you may or may not have a working pulmonary valve, which could cause regurgitation or blood leaking backward into the right lower chamber of the heart (ventricle). This causes the heart to pump harder than it should to bring blood back to the lungs. If the leakiness of the valve is severe, replacement of the pulmonary valve may be recommended.
Patients with pulmonary insufficiency who have severe pulmonary regurgitation with a native or surgically repaired right ventricular outflow tract (RVOT) may be a candidate for the Harmony™ transcatheter pulmonary valve.
Children and adults with pulmonary valve disease may 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.
These CHD patients may need a device like the Melody™ transcatheter pulmonary valve when their surgical valve or conduit needs replacement.
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 buildup.
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.
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 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.
For more information, download this e-book:
Hoffman JL, Kaplan S. The incidence of congenital heart disease. J Am Coll Cardiol. June 19, 2002;39(12):1890-1900.
Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.