In a normal heart, blood flows from the body into the right atrium and on to the right ventricle. Blood is then pumped out of the heart through the pulmonary artery to the lungs. The blood picks up fresh oxygen in the lungs. Then the blood returns to the left atrium of the heart and goes into the left ventricle. There, it is pumped out through the aorta to deliver oxygen-rich blood to the rest of the body.
Pulmonary valve stenosis is a heart defect. This defect happens when the pulmonary valve (the valve between the right ventricle and pulmonary artery) is thickened or partially fused. When this occurs, the valve does not work properly. Blood cannot move efficiently from the heart to the lungs.
The condition can be mild to severe. Other heart defects may be present as well.
Pulmonary stenosis is a congenital defect. This means that the baby is born with it. In most cases, it is not known exactly why the heart develops abnormally.
For many heart defects, the risk factors are unclear. Risk factors for pulmonary valve stenosis may include:
- Family history of congenital heart defect
- Certain chromosomal disorders
- Other heart defects
- Previous pregnancy with fetal heart abnormalities or miscarriage
- Being infected with a virus during pregnancy
Symptoms may include:
- Heavy or rapid breathing
- Shortness of breath
- Blue or pale grayish skin color
- Rapid heart rate
- Swelling of the feet, ankles, eyelids, and abdomen
- Urinating less
Your doctor may also detect a heart murmur in your baby during a physical exam.
These symptoms may be caused by other conditions. If your child has any of these, talk to the doctor right away.
The doctor will ask about your child’s symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Tests may include:
- Echocardiogram —an imaging test that uses sound waves to look at the size, shape, and motion of the heart
- Chest x-ray —an imaging test that uses low amounts of radiation to create an image of the chest
- Electrocardiogram —a test that measures the electrical activity of the heart
- MRI scan —a test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of structures inside the chest
- CT scan —a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of structures inside the chest
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for your child. Treatment options include:
One type of procedure that can be done is called percutaneous balloon valvuloplasty . During this procedure, a balloon is threaded up to the pulmonary valve. The balloon is inflated to stretch the valve and increase blood flow.
In some cases, the valve can be widened with surgery, but in other cases, the valve will need to be replaced with a human or synthetic valve.
If the condition is mild, the doctor may choose to monitor your child’s health instead of doing surgery right away.
Your child will need to have regular visits with a heart doctor. Depending on the severity of the condition and the treatment needed, your child may need to take antibiotics before medical or dental procedures to prevent a heart infection.
Ways to prevent heart defects are not entirely clear and may not always be possible. However, here are some things you can do reduce your risk of having a child with a heart defect:
Get good prenatal care.
- Visit your obstetrician or midwife regularly to monitor your health and the health of your baby. (Prenatal ultrasound and certain genetic tests may detect a heart defect in a growing fetus.)
- Make sure you are practicing a healthy lifestyle. Practice nutritious eating habits and take prenatal vitamins.
- Do not drink alcohol, smoke, or use drugs during pregnancy.
- Reviewer: Kari Kassir, MD
- Review Date: 06/2012 -
- Update Date: 06/06/2012 -