Valvular Heart Disease
Blood flow through the heart's four chambers (two atria and two ventricles) is controlled by four valves. The valves keep blood from flowing backwards. Sometimes the valves don't function properly. This is called valvular heart disease. Problems occur when the valve doesn't open or close the way it should. Click image.
The two valves most commonly affected by valvular heart disease are the aortic valve and the mitral valve.
Who gets a diseased valve?
Anyone can develop a diseased heart valve. Valvular heart disease is more common in older people, but babies can be born with valves that do not function properly.
How do you get valvular heart disease?
Heart valves can be defective from birth. Valvular heart disease can result from aging, heart attacks, infections, or other disease processes that affect the circulatory system. Click image
Any valve can develop a problem, but problems are most common with the aortic and mitral valves. Tricuspid and pulmonic valve problems are less common.
What are the symptoms?
Many people with diseased valves do not feel anything unusual. However, when valvular heart disease is more severe, its symptoms may include:
- Shortness of breath after exercise
- Frequent bronchitis
- Chest pains (angina)
- Fainting spells
Doctors can often detect a diseased valve by listening for a distinctive sound called a heart murmur.
How is it treated?
Treatment for diseased heart valves can be medical or surgical. Medical treatment can improve heart function and help prevent complications. Sometimes, a valve is so diseased that it requires surgical treatment.
Occasionally, the surgeon must examine the valve to determine whether it is repairable or if it needs to be replaced. Operations to replace diseased heart valves have become common procedures. Click image.
Replacement valves can be mechanical or biological.
Learn More About Valvular Heart Diseae
Learn more about heart valve replacement at our Health Encyclopedia.
Download our patient education materials for more information on valvular heart disease and how it is treated at Owensboro Health.