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Causes of Valve Disease

What causes heart valve disease?

While the causes of congenital valve defects, those present from birth, are unknown, there are a number of known causes of acquired heart valve problems. Aging is often the main culprit, as simple wear and tear may take its toll on a healthy heart over a long life, or cause minor existing valve problems to worsen. Heart valve disease is more common than previously simply because people are living longer. Lifestyle choices can also have an effect, as resulting high blood pressure or heart disease can also damage the valves in the heart. Some valves are more susceptible than others to damage from certain sources.

Some causes of valve disorders:

  • Congenital malformations
  • Degenerative changes due to aging
  • Damage to the valves from high blood pressure or atherosclerosis
  • Damage to the muscles controlling the valves due to heart attack
  • Certain infections, primarily rheumatic fever (a rare childhood illness), bacterial endocarditis (infection of the heart’s inner lining and valves), or syphilis
  • Disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis or systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus), or certain cancers in distant parts of the body
  • Certain medications, such as the diet drug Fen-Phen, or methysergide, used to treat migraines
  • Radiation therapy to the chest for cancer treatment

People with any of these conditions are at greater risk of developing heart valve disease, and should work with their physician to minimize their risk.

Can valve disease be prevented?

While not all valve disease can be prevented, damage to the heart valves often can be prevented or minimized:

  • Don’t smoke. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke and need help quitting, ask us for a referral to an effective smoking cessation program
  • Maintain a basic healthy lifestyle: eat a balanced diet low in salt and fat, exercise regularly, and maintain a healthy weight
  • Drink in moderation only: no more than two alcoholic beverages a day
  • If you have experienced other forms of heart disease, follow your prescribed treatment program
  • If you have a heart murmur, follow your doctor’s recommended precautions
  • If you have diabetes, maintain control your blood sugar
  • Get prompt treatment for a sore throat lasting more than 48 hours, especially if accompanied by fever
  • Be cautious about using fad over-the-counter diet or stimulant drugs or herbal preparations
  • Get checked out if you have concerning symptoms. Early intervention can often mean the difference between a mild disorder and serious disease

Start living. Heart healthy.

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The Adventist Heart Institute values your privacy and handles your personal information with care. Your email address and information is secure, confidential and will not be sold to any third party sources.

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To talk with someone immediately, call 888.529.9018

The Adventist Heart Institute values your privacy and handles your personal information with care. Your email address and information is secure, confidential and will not be sold to any third party sources.

AHI Rebrand