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Who Is at Risk for Heart Valve Disease?

Older age is a risk factor for heart valve disease. As you age, your heart valves thicken and become stiffer. Also, people are living longer now than in the past. As a result, heart valve disease has become an increasing problem.

People who have a history of infective endocarditis (IE), rheumatic fever, heart attack, or heart failure—or previous heart valve disease—also are at higher risk for heart valve disease. In addition, having risk factors for IE, such as intravenous drug use, increases the risk of heart valve disease.

You're also at higher risk for heart valve disease if you have risk factors for coronary heart disease. These risk factors include high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, smoking, insulin resistance, diabetes, overweight or obesity, lack of physical activity, and a family history of early heart disease.

Some people are born with an aortic valve that has two flaps instead of three. Sometimes an aortic valve may have three flaps, but two flaps are fused together and act as one flap. This is called a bicuspid or bicommissural aortic valve. People who have this congenital condition are more likely to develop aortic heart valve disease.

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Heart Valve Disease Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are research studies that explore whether a medical strategy, treatment, or device is safe and effective for humans. To find clinical trials that are currently underway for Heart Valve Disease, visit www.clinicaltrials.gov.


Heart Valve Disease in the News

November 18, 2013
Valve repair or replacement offers similar outcomes for severe heart valve disease
Repair or replace? Consumers often ask this question when considering faulty cars, appliances, or other equipment. A new clinical study has now addressed this question for a serious medical decision: how to treat ischemic mitral regurgitation (IMR), a condition in which blood backflows into the heart because the mitral valve becomes leaky after a heart attack. The study compared the two surgical options –re-tightening the leaky mitral valve or replacing it with a prosthetic –and found no significant differences in patient outcomes after a year.

View all Heart Valve Disease Press Releases


 
November 16, 2011 Last Updated Icon

The NHLBI updates Health Topics articles on a biennial cycle based on a thorough review of research findings and new literature. The articles also are updated as needed if important new research is published. The date on each Health Topics article reflects when the content was originally posted or last revised.