Mitral Regurgitation – mitral valve cannot close completely, therefore blood back-flows into the LA
Mitral Stenosis – mitral valve cannot open fully or is narrowed, therefore blood can’t go into the LV
Aortic Regurgitation – aortic valve cannot close completely, therefore blood back-flows into the LV
Aortic Stenosis – aortic valve cannot open fully or is narrowed, therefore blood can’t get out of LV
When the blood can’t flow the direction it’s supposed to flow, cardiac output is compromised.
The most common cause of valve disorders is rheumatic fever or endocarditis which cause damage, vegetation, or thickening and scarring of the heart valves. An acute, emergent situation could be caused by mitral valve prolapse or papillary muscle rupture.
Preserve cardiac output where possible, and proceed to valve repair or replacement if cardiac output is compromised. Prevent post-op complications from valve repair or replacement.
May be asymptomatic except heart murmur. If cardiac output is compromised, may see these symptoms:
May be asymptomatic except heart murmur. If cardiac output is compromised, may see these signs:
The easiest way for a nurse to determine the presence of a valve disorder is to listen for murmurs. A murmur indicates abnormal or turbulent blood flow through the valve.
Valve disorders can compromise cardiac output. Assess cardiovascular status to determine if there is decreased perfusion to the tissues. If BP is dropping, HR may increase to compensate.
If blood is not going forward or backing up, it can cause pulmonary congestion leading to pulmonary edema. This would cause decreased SpO2, crackles in the lungs, and possibly even pink-frothy sputum
Papillary muscle rupture and mitral valve prolapse may occur suddenly. They are most often accompanied by chest pain, shortness of breath, or other signs of heart failure. This is an emergency that requires surgical intervention immediately. Don’t hesitate to call for help.
Patients who receive artificial valve replacements will require lifelong anticoagulant therapy. They need to be taught precautions for anticoagulant therapy, including using electric razors and soft bristle toothbrushes and how often they will require monitoring, if at all.
Patients with artificial heart valves are at high risk of developing endocarditis. They need to be taught about preventative measures, including receiving prophylactic antibiotics prior to any invasive procedures.
Oral hygiene is imperative to prevention of endocarditis after valve repair. This may seem silly but it is a HUGE deal. The evidence has shown that bacteria from the oral cavity are highly likely to translocate (move) to the heart and become lodged in/on the valves. This is also why patients should avoid dental procedures for 6 months after valve surgery. It is so important that you, as the nurse, educate them on why this is so important.
For more information, visit www.nursing.com/cornell
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