Pulmonary Valve Disease

Without treatment, pulmonary valve disease can keep you from your everyday activities. But with the right care, this heart valve condition doesn’t have to stop you from living your life.

Why choose Henry Ford Health System for pulmonary heart valve care?

At the Center for Structural Heart Disease, our doctors understand pulmonary valve disease. They use minimally invasive procedures to help you enjoy a healthy life.

How your pulmonary heart valve should work

Your heart has four valves that control blood flow. The pulmonary valve sits between the right ventricle (lower heart chamber) and the pulmonary artery, which carries blood to the lungs to pick up oxygen.

A pulmonary valve has three flaps. The flaps open when blood flows from the ventricle to the pulmonary artery. They should then close tightly.

What is pulmonary valve disease?

Pulmonary valve disease occurs when the valve doesn’t open or close properly. The two types of this valve disease are:

  • Pulmonary stenosis: Narrowing (stenosis) occurs when the valve’s flaps become thick and stiff. This change stops the valve from fully opening and restricts blood flow.
  • Pulmonary regurgitation: Regurgitation occurs when the valve’s flaps do not close tightly, allowing blood to leak back into the right side of the heart.

Causes of pulmonary valve disease

Pulmonary valve disease is more uncommon than aortic valve or mitral valve disease, especially in adults. Disease in the pulmonary valve can be:

  • Congenital pulmonary valve disease: Someone with this condition was born with a pulmonary valve problem. Most forms of pulmonary stenosis are congenital and are most often diagnosed in childhood.
  • Acquired pulmonary valve disease: This condition develops later in life from damage to the heart.

Symptoms of pulmonary valve disease

You may experience few symptoms in the disease’s early stages, or even none at all. As the valve’s condition declines, though, the heart must work harder to pump blood. At that point, you may notice symptoms such as:

  • Difficulty breathing with activity (most common effect)
  • Chest pain
  • Reduced ability to exercise
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Lightheadedness or fainting

Diagnosing pulmonary valve disease

Our doctors provide an accurate diagnosis to get the right treatment for you. We offer appointments at our main campus, Henry Ford Hospital, and in Jackson (Henry Ford Allegiance) or Clinton Township (Henry Ford Macomb). During your first visit, your doctor:

  • Performs a complete physical exam
  • Asks about your symptoms
  • Discusses your medical history
  • Reviews any previous tests or imaging studies
  • Suggest additional heart tests or scans

Latest treatments for pulmonary valve disease

After your evaluation, our team meets to discuss your care. We work together to develop your customized treatment plan. We then review your treatment options with you. We help you decide which treatment is best for you. Options may include:

  • Medication and monitoring: Medications can’t cure heart valve disease, but they can relieve the early symptoms. Our team can also help you make lifestyle changes to manage symptoms.
  • Minimally invasive procedures: Our heart valve repairs and replacements use special tubes (catheters) to reach your heart through a blood vessel. Your team determines which approach may work best for you:
    • Valve repair: Sometimes, we can repair the pulmonary valve. Your symptoms and health help us decide whether this option might work for you.
    • Valve replacement: Replacement provides an alternative for people who can’t have open-heart surgery because of their age or health.
  • Surgery: Some people still benefit from traditional open-heart surgery to repair or replace the valve. Expert heart surgeons on our team provide safe, effective treatment.
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