Heart valve disorders can arise from two main types of malfunctions: Regurgitation (leakage of the valve) or stenosis (narrowing of the valve). Heart valves can develop both malfunctions at the same time (regurgitation and stenosis). Also, more than one heart valve can be affected at the same time. When heart valves fail to open and close properly, the implications for the heart can be serious, possibly hampering the heart’s ability to pump blood adequately through the body. Heart valve problems are one cause of heart failure.
Mild valve disease may not cause symptoms. However, when symptoms do occur, they may vary depending on the type of heart valve disease present and may include chest pain, palpitations caused by irregular heartbeats, fatigue, dizziness, low or high blood pressure (depending on which valve disease is present), shortness of breath or abdominal pain due to an enlarged liver (if there is tricuspid valve malfunction).
Heart valve disease may be suspected if the heart sounds heard through a stethoscope are abnormal. This is usually the first step in diagnosing a heart valve disease. Further tests may include electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG), echocardiogram (echo), transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE), chest X-ray, cardiac catheterization or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). In some cases, the only treatment for heart valve disease may be careful medical supervision. However, other treatment options may include medication, surgery to repair the valve, or surgery to replace the valve.Previous Page Last Review Date: August 14, 2019