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About This Condition
Heart valve disease disrupts the flow of blood through the heart. It can leave you short of breath and too weak for normal activities.
Heart valve disease can disturb the normal flow of blood through the heart. This can affect your overall health and keep you from enjoying the activities you love.
Heart valves can develop one or both of these problems:
Heart valve disease can develop before birth (congenital), be acquired during your lifetime, or be the result of an infection. Acquired heart valve disease is the most common of these types. Sometimes the cause is unknown, but it involves changes in the structure of your heart valves as a result of mineral deposits on the valve or surrounding tissue. Infective heart valve disease causes changes to your valves because of diseases, such as rheumatic fever or infections.
Only your doctor is able to diagnose heart valve disease. However, some common symptoms that may indicate heart valve disease include:
Symptoms can range from mild to none at all and do not always indicate the seriousness of heart valve disease.
There are risk factors you can control and risk factors you can't control. Advancing age and congenital heart problems (present from birth) are factors beyond your control. Factors you can control include infections and untreated strep throat, which can lead to rheumatic fever.
Your doctor can detect a heart valve problem and find out the nature of your valve damage by talking with you about your symptoms and performing a number of tests. These tests may include:
Nkomo VT, Gardin JM, Skelton TN, et al. Burden of valvular diseases: a population-based study. The Lancet Online. August 18, 2006; Vol 368; pp 1005-1011.
Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.