Any crisis to the heart feels like the end of the world, particularly if you didn’t expect it. The death of a loved one, job loss, careers, losing dear friend, and any heart disorder — feels like your life will never be the same. You can’t take control of natural incidents within your life. But, taking prompt measures for heart disease is a very vital part of your health. Your heart is a powerful muscle that pumps blood into your body. Thus, any abnormality to the heart can be a life-threatening issue for you. Barlow’s syndrome is one of the most common heart valve abnormalities. In this article, you will find the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of Barlow’s syndrome in a detailed way. But, first, let’s have a look at some of the basics of this disease.
Barlow’s syndrome is also known as a floppy-valve syndrome or mitral valve prolapse. Barlow’s Syndrome is a common condition that is basically the improper closure of the mitral valve. Mitral valve exists between the left atrium and the left ventricle of your heart. This is a condition, where two mitral valves do not smoothly close. Instead, they bulge in an upward direction into the left atrium. Moreover, the valves ensure the blood flow in the forward direction. The improper closing of your mitral valve initiates blood leakage backwards into the left atrium (regurgitation).
Mostly, this abnormality shows no symptoms. Therefore, your health is not affected. Also, you don’t need any treatment even though you have this problem. However, sometimes, this syndrome can cause certain conditions such as fatigue, palpitations, etc. After enough introductory facts about this syndrome, let’s move on its further explanation.
Symptoms of Barlow’s Syndrome
Although Barlow’s syndrome is a permanent abnormality, often it has any symptoms. Usually, after the diagnosis of Barlow’s syndrome, people are surprised to know that they have a heart issue. Furthermore, the symptoms of Barlow’s syndrome largely vary from person to person, but generally, they are:
- An irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia)
- Chest pain
- Breathlessness during exertion
- Syncope (fainting)
- Fatigue or dizziness
- Panic and anxiety
Moreover, if there are any symptoms of Barlow’s syndrome, it might be the leakage of blood in a backward direction in your heart.
Causes of Barlow’s syndrome
One of the main causes of Barlow’s syndrome is the degeneration of the valve’s tissues. It causes the leaflets of the valve to stretch and expand. Therefore, it, in turn, causes a bulge into the left-atrium that stops the valve to close properly.
Apart from tissue degeneration, Barlow’s syndrome may also occur due to causes such as:
- Myocardial ischemia (blockage of a coronary artery)
- Dilated cardiomyopathy (The ventricle stretches and can’t pump blood properly )
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (thickening of a part of heart without an obvious cause )
- Marfan syndrome (a genetic disorder that tends to be a tall and thin body)
- Magnesium deficiency
- Family history of Barlow’s syndrome
- Age (generally over 50)
Diagnosis of Barlow’s syndrome
For diagnosis of Barlow’s syndrome, your doctor physically checks you for the heart sounds. The purpose is, to detect any clicking sound that may be an indicator of this syndrome. It also allows your doctor to find out the presence of mitral valve regurgitation. Some, other tests for Barlow’s syndrome diagnosis are:
Echocardiogram imaging: This is a diagnostic method that assesses your heart. Infect, high-frequency sound waves create images of the structure of your heart. Therefore, it helps to analyze the blood flow through the mitral valve and the amount of blood leakage in your heart.
Electrocardiogram (ECG): ECG is a diagnostic test that uses electrodes to detect the electrical and the muscular activity of your heart. These recorded signals help the doctor in finding defects in the structure and rhythm of your heart.
Chest X-ray imaging: It is used to take the image of your heart, lungs, and also the blood vessels. Then, it may detect heart enlargements.
Stress Test: Typically, it is performed to know the mitral valve regurgitation. Regurgitation can limit the ability of a patient to exercise properly. Therefore, to increase the pulse rate, the patient has to exercise under a doctor’s supervision. A stress test is also effective to detect the presence of coronary heart disease.
Once your doctor diagnosis your disease, he can easily find out the best method for the treatment of Barlow’s syndrome. Now, let’s elaborate on the treatment methods of Barlow’s syndrome.
Treatment of Barlow’s syndrome
Barlow’s syndrome commonly doesn’t create any trouble, thus treatment is not required in most of the cases. However, in rare cases, it can cause an abnormal heartbeat (arrhythmias). In such rare cases, your doctor may proceed for surgery to repair or completely change the valve. Furthermore, in a few cases, when the mitral valve regurgitation occurs, your doctor may prescribe medications. Moreover, either it is surgery or medication, the decision for Barlow’s syndrome treatment will be on the basis of causes and diagnosis of the disease.
When an individual develops symptoms of this syndrome, then the physician will prescribe medication. General medication may include:
- blood thinners
Surgery is an option for treatment when you have mitral valve regurgitations. Repair or replacements of the valve are two procedures for this surgical Barlow’s syndrome treatment.
Valve Repair: Valve repair is a common approach in many cases of mitral valve regurgitations. So, various procedures for valve repair are:
- Rejoining the leaflets of the valve.
- Removal of the surplus mass to facilitate the tight closing of the leaflets.
- Replacing or reinforcing the annulus.
Valve Replacement: It is done in rare cases when valve repair is not a feasible choice. Prosthetic or artificial valves are used as a replacement method. Artificial valves are of two types, mechanical valves and tissue valves (made from animal tissue). Mechanical valves are for a long period. But, you have to take anti-coagulant medication throughout your life. Tissue valves may wear out easily. However, you do not need to take anti-coagulant medication for tissue valves.
Some health issues may increase your risk of developing Barlow’s syndrome. They are:
- Scoliosis (a person’s spine has a sideways curve)
- Graves’ Disease (an immune system disorder )
- Ebstein’s Anomaly(a congenital malformation of the heart)
- Marfan Syndrome (a genetic disorder that tends to be a tall and thin body)
- Muscular Dystrophy (causes gradual weakness and loss of muscle mass. )
- Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (a disease that weakens the connective tissues of your body. )
If you have the symptoms of Barlow’s syndrome and still not detected for an echocardiogram, then hardly you need to worry. But still, you should take some precautionary measures which are:
- avoid alcohol, caffeine, or acidic drinks
- release stress
- take medication to reduce palpitations or rapid heartbeat
When to see a doctor
If you feel any signs of Barlow’s syndrome, then go to your doctor for any necessary treatment. Many other causes may show like this syndrome, so only a visit to your doctor can resolve the issue of your disease.
This article has elaborated on the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of Barlow’s syndrome. Therefore, the conclusion of this discussion is that Barlow’s syndrome is a relatively common condition of the heart. Infect, it is an abnormality of the mitral valve of the heart. The severity of disease determines the degree of its complications. This can sometimes lead to severe leakage of blood from the mitral valve (regurgitation).
However, most people do not experience any symptoms of this syndrome. Palpitation, tiredness, dizziness, chest pain, and migraine are common symptoms of Barlow’s syndrome. Therefore, accurate diagnosis and regular monitoring of valve function will prevent complications and ensure a good quality of life for you.