Valvular Heart Disease
Valvular Heart Disease
May 29, 2009
This lesson discusses disease of the four heart valves
Category: Disease & Illness
Classroom: Women Heart Disease - Causes, Symptoms & Diet

Valvular Heart Disease

What is Valvular Heart Disease?

According to the American Heart Association, about 5 million Americans are diagnosed with valvular heart disease each year. Valvular heart disease is caused by stenosis, or abnormal narrowing of the cardiac valves, causing obstructed blood flow and blood regurgitation. In essence, the valves just don't work as they are intended.

How Do Heart Valves Work?

The four heart valves make sure that blood always flows freely in a forward direction preventing backward flow or leakage. The four valves are tricuspid, pulmonic, mitral, and aortic.

What Are the Types of Valve Disease?

There are several types of valvular heart disease, to include:

Valvular stenosis: When a valve opening is smaller than normal leading to heart failure.

Valvular Insufficiency: occurs when a valve does not close tightly, thus allowing blood to leak backwards.

Both valvular diseases can involve all four valves.

heart valves

What Causes Valvular Disease?

Valvular disease can be congenital or acquired sometime during life. Leaflets can be the wrong size, malformed, or are not connected to the annulus properly.

Bicuspid aortic valve disease is a congenital valve disease of the aortic valve. Instead of the normal three leaflets the bicuspid aortic valve has only two. The valve may be unable to open or close properly, or not able close tightly.


Acquired valve disease is when valves that were once normal, are now abnormal. These may due to a variety of diseases or infections, including rheumatic fever or endocarditis.

Mitral valve prolapse (MVP) is a very common, rarely causes symptoms, and usually doesn't require treatment.

Other Causes:

  • heart attack

  • cardiomyopathy

  • syphilis

  • high blood pressure

  • aortic aneurysms

  • connective tissue diseases


  • Shortness of breath

  • Weakness or dizziness

  • chest discomfort

  • heart palpations

  • edema

  • rapid weight gain


  • Echocardiography

  • Transesophageal echocardiography

  • Cardiac catheterization (also called an angiogram)

  • Radionuclide scans

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

Treatment involves protecting your valve from further damage, lessening symptoms, and repairing or replacing valves.


  • Diuretics

  • Anti-arrhythmics

  • Vasodilators

  • Beta Blockers

  • Blood thinners

Protecting Yourself:

If you have valvular disease it is important to protect yourself against infection by taking care of your teeth and gums and taking antibiotics before undergoing any type of procedure that may cause bleeding. Make sure that all your doctors know you have valvular disease, and take all your medications to control any symptoms.

by Barb Hicks RN/LMT

The One-Minute Cure: The Secret to Healing Virtually All Diseases


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The One-Minute Cure: The Secret to Healing Virtually All Diseases