The heart has four valves that keep blood flowing through your heart’s four chambers.

The leaflets of the valve are normally open and closed as your heart beats to allow blood to flow in and out of your heart.

“When one of these valves doesn’t work properly, heart valve disease can occur.”

Age, genetics, and prior infections are some of the factors that contribute to heart valve disease. If you have risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure, you may be at increased risk for heart valve disease.

congenital heart valve disease is something you have from birth.

Heart valve disease can be sudden or gradual. It can happen suddenly if it develops into a heart valve problem. Symptoms may be hard to notice, or they may be so slowly that they are hard to notice.

“Your symptoms don’t mean much when it comes to your heart valve issues. Even if your symptoms are not noticeable, you may still need treatment.”

“Mild forms of heart valve disease don’t need treatment. Others may need surgery.”

“Heart valve disease can cause heart failure because it can interfere with the heart’s ability to pump blood. Heart failure can cause valve disease.”

When symptoms or risk factors are present, it is important to screen for heart valve disease using an echocardiogram or other tests.

You need to know what to ask your doctor.

Heart valve problems generally fall into two categories:

Regurgitation

“This happens when one of your valves doesn’t close tightly, causing blood to leak backwards.”

Your heart may have to work harder to pump blood. You can be born with this condition or it can develop over time. There are different types of heart valve disease that can involve regurgitation.

  • Mitral valve regurgitation. Blood leaks backward through the mitral valve back into the left atrium.
  • Bicuspid aortic valve. The aortic valve has two aortic flaps instead of three, so it doesn’t close completely, causing the backward flow of blood. This is congenital, although symptoms might not develop until later in life.
  • Mitral valve prolapse. Valve flaps bulge and don’t completely close as the heart muscles contract and relax.
  • Tricuspid regurgitation. Blood leaks backward through the tricuspid valve into the right atrium, which may increase the size of the right atrium. This can occur from severe lung disease or pulmonary hypertension.

Stenosis

A valve opening can become narrow, which can limit the flow of blood. There are different types of heart valve disease.

  • Mitral valve stenosis. The mitral valve doesn’t fully open due to narrowing, which restricts blood flow through the valve. This type of valve disease can occur after rheumatic fever, which can cause inflammation of the heart and blood vessels.
  • Aortic valve stenosis. A narrowing of the aortic valve, which more commonly occurs with age but can also be congenital due to bicuspid aortic valve.
  • Pulmonary stenosis. This occurs when the pulmonary valve doesn’t open correctly. It’s often congenital.

Symptoms of heart valve disease can vary from person to person. The first sign is usually a heart murmur, which your doctor can hear while listening to your heart with a stethoscope during a routine physical examination.

“It doesn’t mean you have heart valve disease. You will need to have testing to confirm a diagnosis.”

You might notice that heart valve disease affects blood flow.

  • Unusual fatigue.
  • The breath was very thin.
  • Swelling in your body.
  • The heart is racing.
  • dizziness
  • Low or high blood pressure is what it is.
  • There is chest pain.
  • Is it possible to exercise with exercise intolerance?

If you develop any of these symptoms, see a doctor.

An echocardiogram is the primary test for diagnosing heart valve disease. This test uses sound waves, or ultrasound, to create pictures of the heart. It can look for problems with your heart valves and help your doctor assess the overall function and health of your heart.

Doctors use other types of screenings. These include:

  • Electrocardiogram. This noninvasive test records the electrical signals in your heart. It can detect heart abnormalities, heart diseases, and blocked blood vessels. It involves placing electrodes or sensors on your chest and then recording electrical signals as your heart beats.
  • Transesophageal echo. This test also produces a picture of your heart. It involves placing a flexible tube down your throat into your esophagus to take images of your heart.
  • Cardiac catheterization. This test involves inserting a thin flexible tube into a blood vessel and then feeding this tube to your heart. Doctors use this test to assess valve function, and they’ll typically place the tube in a blood vessel located in your arm, upper thigh, or neck.
  • Chest X-ray. These tests use electromagnetic energy beams to create images of the heart, so your doctor can look for signs of heart enlargement and other heart problems.
  • Stress test. A machine takes images of your heart as you complete a strenuous activity, such as walking or running on a treadmill. This test helps assess how well your heart functions and provides information about the severity of heart valve disease.
  • Cardiac MRI. This test uses magnets to create an image of your heart. This provides information about the overall health of your heart.

Symptoms of heart valve disease can vary from person to person. There are a few questions to ask about your diagnosis.

  • When should I have an echocardiogram?
  • What can we learn from screening my heart?
  • What are the next steps if a problem is found?
  • Will I need follow-up screenings in the future if my heart valve problem is not serious?
  • What are the treatments for heart valve disease?
  • What are the signs that my heart valve disease is getting worse?

“Heart valve disease can affect your heart’s ability to pump blood. Even though some people don’t have symptoms, the condition can cause serious issues.”

It’s important to see a doctor for any cardiac symptoms (There is chest pain.s, The heart is racing., fatigue, dizziness, high blood pressure). They may recommend screening for heart valve disease.