What is heart valve disease?
The two most common forms of heart valve disease are:
- Stenosis (or narrowing of the valve): The valve(s) opening becomes narrowed, limiting the flow of blood out of the ventricles or atria. The heart is forced to pump blood with increased force in order to move blood through the narrowed or stiff (stenotic)
- Regurgitation (or leakage of the valve): The valve(s) does not close completely, causing the blood to flow backward through the valve. The heart is forced to pump more blood on the next beat, making it work harder.
Heart valves can develop both malfunctions at the same time (regurgitation and stenosis). Also, more than one heart valve can be affected at the same time. When heart valves fail to open and close properly, the implications for the heart can be serious,
possibly hampering the heart's ability to pump blood adequately through the body. Heart valve problems are one cause of congestive heart failure.
Common Heart Valve Diseases
The mitral and aortic valves are most often affected by heart valve disease. Some of the more common heart valve diseases include: