Symptoms of Valve Disease

What are the signs and symptoms of heart valve disease?

Valve disease can be present without any observed symptoms, although serious valve disease usually causes noticeable discomfort. Symptoms may come on suddenly, or emerge and worsen gradually over time, so gradually you may not pay much attention until they create a serious impact on your life. The severity of symptoms may not match the severity of the valve disease. Most symptoms of valve disease can also be symptoms of other disorders, both serious and benign, so it’s important to see your doctor for evaluation. The sooner valve disease is identified and treated, the better your outcome will be.

Mild valve problems may produce few if any noticeable symptoms. More serious valve disorders generally – but not always – produce more pronounced symptoms. See your doctor if you experience the following symptoms:

  • Chest pain, pressure, or tightness
  • Palpitations (heavy, pounding, or noticeable heartbeats)
  • Fluttering discomfort in the chest
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty breathing when lying down
  • Lightheadedness or fainting
  • Swollen ankles and feet
  • Low tolerance for activity
  • Cold skin

Call an Ambulance if you experience severe chest pain. Call Your Doctor as soon as possible if you develop persistent shortness of breath, palpitations or dizziness.

If significant symptoms develop suddenly, don’t wait to contact your doctor: sudden symptoms can signal fast-developing valve disease that needs prompt treatment.

Additional signs that may only be detectable through medical exam include heart murmur and enlargement of the liver. Infections affecting the heart’s valves may also produce symptoms such as fever.

What are the risk factors for valve disease?

With the exception of congenital heart problems, valve disease isn’t something you’re born with: it develops over time from an accumulation of insults to the structures of the heart. Certain health and lifestyle factors can especially set the stage for valve disease to develop, making the normal wear and tear of life more likely to cause malfunctions or damage within your heart. These circumstances are called risk factors. Having one or more risk factors doesn’t mean any particular person will develop valve disease, or that any resulting valve disease will present a serious health problem, but the presence of risk factors in your life does mean that you and your doctor should pay particular attention to your heart’s health.


The heart works tirelessly throughout our lives, and many small insults can accumulate over time to affect the heart’s valves as we age. One consequence we see from the trend for people to live longer lives is an increase in valve disease, from such issues as accumulating calcium deposits or thickening of the valve’s flaps coupled with reduced flexibility. Living a healthy lifestyle throughout life can reduce the effects of aging on the heart. Be aware that declines in energy or stamina, difficulty doing normal activities, or other symptoms, may not be an inevitable result of aging, but may be signs of developing – and treatable – valve disease.


Certain infections can have a lasting effect on the heart that increases the risk of valve disease. If you have a history of rheumatic fever, infective endocarditis, or syphilis, you may have an increased risk for developing valve disease. Your doctor can help you manage that risk.

Chronic illnesses

Some chronic disorders can increase the risk of valve disease, including some forms of rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus), diabetes, or certain cancers in distant parts of the body.

Existing valve problems

Many people have diagnosed mild valve problems such as innocent heart murmur, bicuspid aortic valve, mitral valve prolapse, or mild valve disease. While these may never develop into serious valve disease, the compromised valves are at greater risk than healthy ones. Your doctor can tell you what you can do to reduce these risks.

Previous serious heart problems

If you have a history of heart attack, heart surgery, or other known heart problems, you could be at greater risk of developing valve disease.

Lifestyle factors

Certain lifestyle choices, like smoking, excess weight, lack of exercise, excessive alcohol consumption, or unhealthy diet, can provide ongoing insults to the heart that could, in time, develop into valve disease. Your doctor can help you identify ways to make your lifestyle more heart-healthy, and offer resources to help you make changes.

We’re Here for You

The Valve Clinic is as concerned with prevention as treatment. Whether your doctor has recommended a cardiac evaluation, you have symptoms you’re concerned about or risk factors to manage, or simply want to take a proactive approach to keeping your heart healthy throughout your life, our multi-disciplinary team is here to help.

Start living. Heart healthy.

Request More Information

Call (888) 529-9018 to speak with a Patient Service Advisor, or fill out the form and we’ll contact you soon.

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