Valvular Heart Disease

Your heart has four valves that work like gates, separating the heart chambers and controlling blood flow into and out of the heart.
Normal heart valves open wide and close tight in response to changing pressure within the heart chambers. When there is valvular disease, the valves may not close tightly and blood may leak through. This is called insufficiency or regurgitation. When the valve does not open fully, it is described as stenotic. A person with valvular heart disease may have either insufficient or stenotic heart valves, or a combination of both.

When heart valves do not function normally because of disease, your doctor may recommend replacement with a prosthetic (artificial) valve.

Symptoms for valvular heart disease can include shortness of breath and fatigue, which is caused by the heart not pumping an ample amount of blood through the body. Instead, the blood sloshes uselessly between chambers as the valve between them doesn’t work properly.