Origin of Acquired Heart Defects

Heart disease, feeling of pain in the chest.

There are many classifications of heart defects, one of which is the division into congenital and acquired. Below we will consider four key reasons for the formation of heart abnormalities in adults, and also answer the question of whether the appearance of acquired heart defects can be avoided.

Heart disease is a pathology in which the normal blood flow in the heart is disrupted.

So, there are four main reasons for the development of acquired heart defects:

  1. Rheumatic diseases.
  2. Atherosclerotic lesion.
  3. Damage to the inner layer of the heart – endocarditis.
  4. Complications of syphilis.

Rheumatic defects formed against the background of rheumatic diseases

Rheumatic diseases (occurring in 80% of cases) are an autoimmune inflammatory pathology in which the human immune system attacks the tissues of one’s own joints, muscles, bones and internal organs, including the lungs, heart, nervous system, kidneys, skin and even eyes. There are more than 200 diseases classified as rheumatic. Chronic rheumatic heart disease and rheumatic fever occupy a special place among them.

Chronic rheumatic heart disease is a life-threatening heart disease that results from damage to the heart valves caused by one or more episodes of rheumatic fever. The latter is a cross-over autoimmune inflammatory reaction (damage to tissues of the body’s own body, including inflammation and scarring of the heart valves) in response to the introduction of streptococcal infection (streptococcal pharyngitis or streptococcal sore throat).

Streptococcus can spread easily from person to person – just like other upper respiratory infections. Most often, diseases caused by this microorganism occur in children.

Thus, rheumatic heart disease is caused by damage to the heart valves and heart muscle as a result of inflammation and scarring caused by rheumatic fever.

Atherosclerotic causes

Atherosclerosis. Computer image of a narrowed artery

Atherosclerosis is an inflammatory disease of the arteries, which is manifested by characteristic changes: the accumulation of lipids and fibrous tissue under the inner lining of the vessel, the formation of an atherosclerotic plaque. The latter narrows the lumen of the vessel, interferes with the normal blood flow and causes ischemia (oxygen starvation) of organs and tissues.

Atherosclerotic vascular injury develops over a long time and is one of the main causes of heart and vascular diseases. Also, risk factors for cardiovascular complications of atherosclerosis are:

  • overweight;
  • smoking;
  • use of oral contraceptives;
  • low physical activity.

Atherosclerosis, which develops in the arteries of the lower limb, is characterized by pain in the muscles of the lower leg while walking (this condition is called intermittent claudication).

Atherosclerosis can also affect the arteries that supply blood to the brain, that is, the carotid and vertebral arteries. Narrowing of any of them can cause cerebral ischemia, which can manifest itself as dizziness, confusion, and sometimes a temporary loss of motor functions. In more serious cases, stroke may occur.

If atherosclerosis affects one of the coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle, it can cause severe pain. Typically, this pain occurs with exertion and quickly decreases at rest. Rupture of an atherosclerotic plaque often leads to blockage of the vessel and death of the heart muscle, that is, to a heart attack.

Narrowed artery and heart.

After a heart attack, the heart can change its shape, its chambers are often enlarged, and the size of the valve cusps is not enough to prevent the reverse flow of blood. This is how acquired heart disease occurs.

Atherosclerosis and inflammatory reactions also have a great influence on the structure of the valve apparatus itself. Because of this pathology, the valves are calcified, cease to be the same mobile and elastic. Calcifying aortic valve disease is the most common valve disease in the elderly.

Defects that result from inflammation of the inner lining of the heart (endocarditis)

Endocarditis is usually divided into non-infectious and infectious. The first is more common, but rarely directly affects the valves of the heart. However, it is a risk factor for the appearance of an infectious pathology of the inner lining of the heart. This pathology often affects the valve apparatus, that is, it causes acquired heart defects.

Classification of infective endocarditis. Infective endocarditis is divided into acute, subacute and chronic. Acute infective endocarditis develops suddenly and can be life-threatening. Subacute and chronic infective endocarditis progresses slowly over a period of several weeks to several months. Infection can be caused by bacteria entering the bloodstream (for example, due to poor oral hygiene).

People who have already had valve surgery or heart transplants are at high risk of infection. Also predispose to the disease of calcium deposits in the mitral or aortic valve, congenital heart defects or endocarditis in the past.

The acute form of the disease usually begins with fever, chills, heart palpitations, fatigue, night sweats, joint and muscle pain, persistent cough, and swelling of the feet, legs, or abdomen.

Chronic infective endocarditis symptoms can include fatigue, mild fever, heart palpitations, weight loss, sweating, and a low red blood cell count (anemia). Treatment usually includes antibiotic therapy.

Syphilis

The word "syphilis" and medical equipment.

Syphilis is a systemic sexually transmitted infection. It is caused by the pale spirochete (treponema pallidum). Syphilis is characterized by a chronic course, accompanied by numerous skin lesions, and in some cases – pathology of internal organs, including the development of acquired heart valve defects.

The sooner this disease is diagnosed, the more chances the patient has for a full recovery. However, if the disease causes serious damage to the body, it will be difficult to cure it. The fastest way to fight the disease is with antibiotic therapy, which usually uses penicillin.

Can acquired heart defects be avoided?

To prevent this group of diseases, it is recommended to follow the rules of a healthy lifestyle: stop smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, engage in physical activity, control body weight, undergo preventive examinations by a doctor, and also use barrier contraception.

Thus, acquired heart defects are a group of diseases that arise from four main causes: rheumatic diseases, atherosclerotic lesions, endocarditis and syphilis. 


References:

  1. Harrison`s Principles of Internal Medicine 19/E (Vol.1). Dennis Kasper, Anthony Fauci, Stephen Hauseret all. McGraw-HillEducation 2015 ISBN: 0071802134 ISBN-13(EAN): 9780071802130.
  2. Interna szczeklika  – duży podręcznik. Medycyna praktyczna. 2021. ISBN 9788374306522.
  3. Internal diseases in 2 volumes: textbook / Ed. ON THE. Mukhina, V.S. Moiseeva, A.I. Martynova – 2010 .– 1264 p.
  4. Shlyakhto, EV Cardiology: national leadership / ed. E. V. Shlyakhto – 2nd ed. , revised and add. – Moscow: GEOTAR-Media, 2019 .– 800 p. (Series: National Guide) – ISBN 978-5-9704-4810-6.

To prevent this group of diseases, it is recommended to follow the rules of a healthy lifestyle: stop smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, engage in physical activity, control body weight, undergo preventive examinations by a doctor, and also use barrier contraception.

First of all, you cannot refuse qualified medical care, as well as neglect the doctor’s recommendations.

With timely treatment, in most cases, heart disease does not affect life expectancy. The threat exists with complex defects, however, good results are often achieved in these patients.

Heart disease is a pathology in which the normal blood flow in the heart is disrupted.

There are four main reasons for the development of acquired heart defects:

  1. Rheumatic diseases.
  2. Atherosclerotic lesion.
  3. Damage to the inner layer of the heart – endocarditis.
  4. Complications of syphilis.

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