Heart valve disease
one or more of your heart valves becomes damaged or diseased, it
can affect the flow of blood through your heart.
There are four chambers in your heart and
the valves make sure that the blood flows through them in one
The two large blood vessels that leave the heart also have
valves to make sure that the blood does not go back into the heart
once it has been pumped out.
What happens if a valve becomes diseased or damaged?
A diseased or damaged valve can affect the flow of blood in two
- If the valve does not open fully, it will obstruct or restrict
the flow of blood. This is called valve stenosis
or narrowing. This can put extra strain on your
heart, making it pump harder to force the blood past
- If the valve does not close properly, it will allow blood to
leak backwards. This is called valve incompetence
or regurgitation or a leaky
valve. This can put extra strain on your heart and
may mean that your heart has to do extra work to pump the required
volume of blood.
What causes heart valve disease?
The main causes of heart valve disease are:
What are the symptoms of heart valve disease?
You may not experience any symptoms but some of the common
- being out of breath
- swelling of the ankles and feet
- being unusually tired
How is heart valve disease diagnosed?
You may be visiting your doctor because you are
experiencing some of the symptoms listed above. Or you may not have
any symptoms but your doctor has said that they can hear a
murmur (an unusual sound) when they listen to your
heart. A murmur does not always mean that there is a problem
with your heart as people with normal hearts may also have
Your doctor may suggest that you have further tests to see how
well your heart is working. The most common test is an echocardiogram.
How is heart valve disease treated?
You may not need any treatment at all but your doctor may ask
you to come back in a year's time for review, or if your symptoms
get worse. Most valve problems can be treated using medicines or by valve
heart surgery. Your treatment will depend on the cause
of your problem and the effect that it is having on your
Find out more
Researching heart valve disease
Your donations fund vital research into the causes and treatment
of heart conditions, such as the work of
Dr Justin Davies, which aims to help doctors to make a
more accurate diagnosis of aortic stenosis and avoid
putting patients through unnecessary surgery.