Heart Valve Diseases What Are Heart Valve Diseases?
Heart valve diseases are problems affecting one or more of the four valves in the heart. Heart valves open and shut with each heartbeat to keep blood flowing in the right direction. Problems with heart valves can occur if the valves are leaky (a condition called regurgitation), too narrow (stenosis), or don’t have a proper opening (atresia).
The causes of heart valve diseases vary from person to person. You may be born with a heart valve problem, or it may happen because of age or an infection. You may also have a heart valve problem but not experience any symptoms. Or, your symptoms may develop over time. Extreme tiredness (fatigue) is often the first symptom. You may also feel faint or lose consciousness, have breathing difficulty or chest pain, or feel that your heart is skipping a beat, fluttering, pounding, or racing.
To diagnose a heart valve disease, your doctor may ask about your symptoms, listen to your heart, or order imaging tests to look at your heart. In newborns, screening tests can detect and help diagnose heart valve conditions.
Most heart valve conditions are treatable. Medicine may treat symptoms or prevent the condition from getting worse. Your doctor may also suggest surgery or another procedure to repair or replace a faulty heart valve. If not diagnosed and treated promptly, heart valve problems can lead to arrhythmia, infection, high blood pressure in the lungs, heart failure, or cardiac arrest.