Your heart has four valves that keep blood flowing in the correct direction. These valves include the mitral valve, tricuspid valve, pulmonary valve and aortic valve. Each valve has flaps (leaflets or cusps) that open and close once during each heartbeat. Sometimes, the valves don't open or close properly, which can disrupt the blood flow through your heart to your body.
Heart valve disease may be present at birth (congenital). It can also occur in adults due to many causes and conditions, such as infections and other heart conditions.
There are several diseases that affect the heart valves. They include:
Factors that lead to heart valve disease
There are several causes of heart valve disease including congenital, age-related conditions, infection or injury.
Congenital valve defects can involve valves that are either the wrong size, have leaflets that aren’t properly formed, have leaflets that didn’t attach properly, or have the wrong number of leaflets like bicuspid aortic valve disease.
Age-related valve conditions include:
- Degenerative valve disease, such as mitral valve prolapse and mitral valve regurgitation
- Calcification of the valves, which can lead to aortic or mitral valve stenosis
Illness and injury that can cause valve disease:
- Rheumatic fever
- Infective endocarditis
You can reduce your risk of heart valve disease by adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle that includes:
- Regular exercise
- A diet rich in fruits and vegetables and whole grains and low in cholesterol, processed foods, added salt, and refined sugar
- Keeping cholesterol in check
- Not smoking
- Limiting alcohol consumption to one or two drinks per day or less
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Following your doctor’s recommendations related to heart health and disease prevention and treatment
Treatment for heart valve disease varies from person to person based on several factors. It also depends upon the type of valve disease. Some of the treatment options are:
- short-term antibiotics prior to surgery or dental work to prevent infective endocarditis
- long-term antibiotic therapy to help prevent strep throat if you’ve ever had rheumatic fever
- valve repair surgery
- valve replacement surgery
Types of doctors that commonly treat heart valve disease
Cardiologists and cardiac surgeons commonly treat heart valve disease. Beaumont heart doctors offer less invasive treatment options and collaborate to provide each patient the best treatment based on their age and symptoms.