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Understand Heart Valve Disease

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By Rawlings Oke Godwin

On 21 Feb, 2023

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Understand Heart Valve Disease: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment Options

Heart valve disease is when one or more of the valves in the heart do not function properly. These valves control blood flow through the heart and into the rest of the body, and any malfunction can lead to severe health problems. This article will explore the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for heart valve disease.

What Causes Heart Valve Disease?

Various factors, including congenital disabilities, infections, and degenerative conditions, can cause heart valve disease. Some of the most common causes of heart valve disease include:

  • Congenital heart defects: These are heart defects that are present at birth and can affect the structure of the heart valves. For example, some babies are born with heart valves that are too narrow or have only two flaps instead of the usual three.
  • Infections: Infections like endocarditis, a bacterial infection of the heart lining, can damage heart valves and lead to valve disease.
  • Degenerative conditions: As we age, the heart valves can become stiff and thick, making them less effective at controlling blood flow and leading to heart valve disease.

Other factors contributing to heart valve disease include rheumatic fever, high blood pressure, and certain medications.

Types of Heart Valve Diseases

Types of Heart Valve Diseases

There are four main types of heart valve diseases:

1. Aortic Stenosis

Aortic stenosis is a condition in which the aortic valve, which regulates the blood flow from the heart to the rest of the body, becomes narrowed. This can cause the heart to work harder to pump blood, leading to heart failure.

2. Mitral Regurgitation

Mitral regurgitation is a condition in which the mitral valve, which regulates the blood flow from the left atrium to the left ventricle, becomes leaky. This allows blood to flow back into the left atrium, making the heart work harder to pump blood.

3. Mitral Stenosis

Mitral stenosis is a condition in which the mitral valve becomes narrow, making it difficult for blood to flow from the left atrium to the left ventricle. This can lead to shortness of breath, fatigue, and swelling of the legs.

4. Tricuspid Regurgitation

Tricuspid regurgitation is a condition in which the tricuspid valve, which regulates the blood flow from the right atrium to the right ventricle, becomes leaky. This can cause the heart to work harder to pump blood and can lead to heart failure.

Symptoms of Heart Valve Disease

The symptoms of heart valve disease can vary depending on the severity of the condition. In some cases, people may experience no symptoms at all. However, some common symptoms of heart valve disease include:

  • Shortness of breath, especially during physical activity
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat

If you experience these symptoms, you must talk to your doctor immediately.

Diagnosing Heart Valve Disease

To diagnose heart valve disease, your doctor may perform a physical exam and listen to your heart with a stethoscope. Diagnostic tests such as an echocardiogram, electrocardiogram (ECG), or cardiac catheterization are also required. These tests can help your doctor determine the severity of your condition and develop an appropriate treatment plan.

Treatment Options for Heart Valve Disease

The treatment options for heart valve disease depend on the severity of the condition and the type of valve that is affected. In some cases, no treatment may be necessary.

1. Medications

If your heart valve disease is mild, your doctor may recommend medications to help manage your symptoms and prevent further complications. Common medicines for heart valve disease include diuretics to reduce fluid build-up, blood thinners to prevent blood clots, and medications to control blood pressure.

2. Surgery

If your heart valve disease is more severe, your doctor may recommend surgery to repair or replace the damaged valve. Heart valve surgery is divided into 2 main groups: 

  • Valve repair
  • Valve replacement.

Valve repair involves fixing the damaged valve so that it functions properly. Repairing heart valve involves using various techniques, such as reshaping the valve or patching a hole in the valve.

Valve replacement involves removing and replacing the damaged valve with a new one. The new valve can be either a mechanical valve, made of materials like titanium or carbon and can last for decades, or a biological valve, made from animal or human tissue and may need replacement after several years.

3. Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR)

TAVR is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that replaces the aortic valve without open-heart surgery. This procedure involves threading a catheter through an artery in the groin or chest to reach the heart and replace the valve. TAVR is typically reserved for high-risk patients for open-heart surgery and can have a shorter recovery time and fewer complications than traditional valve replacement surgery.

Prevention and Management of Heart Valve Disease

While some causes of heart valve disease, such as congenital disabilities, cannot be prevented, there are some steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing the condition. These include:

  • Regular exercise and a healthy diet to maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of high blood pressure and other heart-related conditions
  • Good dental hygiene reduces the risk of infections that can lead to endocarditis.
  • Avoiding smoking, consuming excessive alcohol consumption, which can damage the heart and increase the risk of heart valve disease
  • Regular check-ups with healthcare provider to monitor your heart health and catch any issues early on

If you are diagnosed with heart valve disease, working closely with your healthcare provider to manage your condition and prevent complications is essential. Working with your healthcare provider may involve taking medications as prescribed and making lifestyle changes to improve your overall heart health. Regular check-ups and testing to monitor the condition of your heart valves are also required.


Heart valve disease is a severe condition that can lead to health problems if left untreated. However, with proper diagnosis and treatment, many people with heart valve disease can manage their condition and lead healthy, active lives. If you are experiencing any symptoms of heart valve disease or have concerns about your heart health, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor. They can help you to understand heart valve disease and determine the best action to protect your heart health and prevent complications.

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Understand Heart Valve Disease FAQ
Understand Heart Valve Disease FAQ
  1. What are the four main types of heart valve diseases? The four main types of heart valve diseases are aortic stenosis, mitral regurgitation, mitral stenosis, and tricuspid regurgitation.
  2. What causes heart valve diseases? Heart valve diseases can be caused by factors such as age, infections, congenital heart defects, and heart attacks.
  3. What are the symptoms of heart valve diseases? Common symptoms of heart valve diseases include chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, swelling of the legs, ankles, and feet, and rapid or irregular heartbeat.
  4. How are heart valve diseases diagnosed? Heart valve diseases are usually diagnosed through a physical exam, medical history review, and tests such as an echocardiogram, ECG, chest X-ray, and cardiac catheterization.
  5.  How do I understand heart valve disease: by reading and asking your healthcare providers questions


  1. American Heart Association. (2022). Heart Valve Disease. Retrieved from
  2. Mayo Clinic. (2021). Heart valve disease. Retrieved from
  3. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (2021). What Is Heart Valve Disease? Retrieved from
  4. Society of Thoracic Surgeons. (2022). Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR). Retrieved from
  5. World Heart Federation. (2021). Valve disease. Retrieved from


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