Overview of Heart Valve Disease
Heart valves control blood flow through your heart. When valves are damaged, they often don't open and close properly. This leads to backflow of blood or limits the forward flow of blood, and makes your heart work harder to move the same amount of blood. In time, this extra work can weaken your heart muscle and may lead to heart failure (described below). Heart valve disease can also cause heart rate and rhythm problems and other complications.
Causes: Heart valve disease has several possible causes. You may have been born with a valve defect. Your valves may have been damaged by coronary artery disease or by an illness such as rheumatic fever. Or, your heart valves may simply be wearing out as you grow older. Three common types of valve problems are:
- Insufficiency: The valve fails to close completely and permits blood backflow.
- Stenosis: Thickened tissue narrows the valve opening and limits the amount of blood that can pass through. Aortic valve stenosis is a serious form of heart valve disease.
- Prolapse: Mitral valve leaflets (flaps) protrude backward into the left atrium whenever the heart contracts — causing some blood to flow. Prolapse is a common cause of mitral valve regurgitation.
Heart Valve Disease In Depth
Learn more about heart valve disease from Intermountain's Patient Education Library:
Treatments for Heart Valve Disease
Your doctor will discuss your treatment options with you. Possible treatments for heart valve disease include:
Services and Programs
Services and programs at Intermountain Heart Institute for patients with heart valve disease:
Research in Heart Valve Disease
The Heart Institute currently has one or more clinical trials that are enrolling patients with heart valve disease. Learn more about our clinical trials for heart valve disease.