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Understanding Valve Disease

What is valve disease?

Heart valves have two important functions: opening quickly and completely to allow blood flow at the proper time, and closing quickly and completely to ensure blood flows only in the correct direction. Valves need to be properly formed and flexible in order to accomplish these functions. A variety of congenital or acquired conditions can affect the functioning of these valves, including birth defects, age-related changes, infections, or other damaging events. Some malfunctions are considered minor – they cause few if any symptoms, and may never develop into valve disease. Others have potentially serious effects. Untreated, valve disease can damage the heart muscle, causing it to thicken and lose elasticity, leading to serious outcomes such as congestive heart failure or other complications.

Can valve disease be effectively treated?

Yes. There are many effective treatments for valve disease, and experience has shown that most who undergo proper treatment experience full or very significant recovery. The Valve Clinic at the Adventist Heart Institute’s experienced multidisciplinary team offers an array of proven, cutting-edge treatments provided by some of the top cardiac physicians in the country. For more about treatment options and our team, see Treating Valve Disease.

What problems can affect the heart’s valves?

Heart valve problems can be congenital (developing before birth), or acquired later in life (initially normal valves developing problems over time due to damage or disease).

Congenital valve disease can occur with other congenital heart defects, or on its own. It most commonly involves malformations of the pulmonary or aortic valves, where blood exits the heart. These malformations may involve the number, size and shape of the valve flaps, the size and shape of the valve itself, or the formation of the opening through which blood can flow properly. Some congenital heart valve defects can be severe enough to require surgical repair early in life, sometimes even before birth. Others may not cause any serious health effects until middle age or later, or not at all. Congenital valve disease can cause both stenosis (narrowing) and regurgitation (leakage).

Acquired heart disease develops either over time, or due to a damaging event, and most frequently involves the aortic and mitral valves in the left side of the heart. Acquired heart disease can cause both stenosis and regurgitation.

types of valve disease
symptoms of valve disease
causes of valve disease

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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.

AHI Rebrand