Damaged valves disrupt blood flow to heart, lungs, body
The four valves of your heart are the tricuspid, pulmonary, mitral and aortic valves. Each valve has a function related to pumping blood to the heart, lungs and other parts of the body. If you have heart valve disease, the valves of your heart don’t open and close correctly and can’t control blood flow and direction. This can lead to blood leaking back into the heart chambers, making the heart work harder and eventually leading to heart failure.
Heart valve disease may be congenital (something you’re born with) or it may be acquired, something that develops over time or later in life. Certain people are at higher risk for developing heart valve disease, such as those who have:
- A connective tissue disease
- Coronary artery disease
- High blood pressure
- Rheumatic fever
Symptoms may include dizziness, shortness of breath, weakness, or swelling in the ankles (edema).
If you have these kinds of symptoms or have concerns about heart valve disease, be sure to talk to your doctor. Your doctor will perform a physical exam and review of your medical history, and may recommend additional tests such as an echocardiogram (echo) or an angiogram.
If you are diagnosed with heart valve disease, your doctor will discuss treatment options with you. Treatment often consists of a combination of diet and lifestyle changes along with medication, and in some cases, surgery.