What is Valve Disease?

The heart has four valves that keep blood flowing in the correct direction. Valve disease occurs when one or more of the valves in the heart does not work correctly. Some people do not experience symptoms for years after being diagnosed with heart valve disease.

Heart valve disease symptoms may include:

  • Abnormal sound of the heart
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness/Fainting
  • Fatigue
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling of your ankles and feet

What causes Valve Disease?

Heart valve disease may be congenital, meaning present at birth, and can also occur in adults due to infections and other heart conditions.

Heart valve problems may include:

  • Regurgitation: the valve flaps do not close properly, causing blood to leak backward in your heart.
  • Stenosis: the valve flaps become thick; this results in a narrowed valve, reducing blood flow.
  • Atresia: the valve is not formed, and a solid sheet of tissue blocks the blood flow be-tween the heart chambers.

Some factors can increase your risk of heart valve disease, including:

  • Congenital heart disease
  • Family history of heart disease or heart attack
  • History of certain infections
  • High blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and other heart conditions
    Older age

How is Valve Disease Treated?

Valve disease treatment depends on the severity of the condition. Sometimes this condition may require surgery to repair or replace the heart valve.

For some people, lifestyle changes and medications may show improvements and delay problems for many years, but you still may need surgery to repair or replace a heart valve. For some others, treatment is not needed at all, but follow-up every year is necessary.

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