What Are Signs of Heart Valve Problems?

We have four heart valves. Each one opens and closes with each heartbeat keeping blood flowing in and out of our heart. If they are not working properly, less blood circulates throughout the rest of our body. What are signs of heart valve problems?

How Heart Valves Are Supposed to Function

11.6 Americans have heart valve disease, however 3 out of 4 know little or nothing about it. Let’s take a moment to get educated.

Our heart has four chambers: 2 atria or upper chambers and 2 ventricles or lower chambers. Blood passes through a heart valve as it leaves each of the chambers. 

We also have four heart valves. Our four heart valves consist of the tricuspid, pulmonary, mitral, and aortic. Each valve has flaps which should open and close as blood passes through. Blood is supposed to flow one way and the valve flaps prevent the backward flow of blood.  

When your heart is healthy, your valve flaps open and closed properly to keep blood flowing in the right direction. 

What Causes Heart Valve Problems?

Getting older can lead to heart valve dysfunction.

Other causes include: 

  • Rheumatic fever from strep throat
  • A previous heart attack that damaged your heart
  • Calcification or degeneration of a valve
  • A congenital problem from birth
  • Advanced high blood pressure
  • Thoracic aortic aneurysm
  • Heart failure
  • Endocarditis or an infection in the heart

What Are Common Signs of Heart Valve Disease?Man holding chest.

Some people who have heart valve disease from a damaged or diseased heart valve show no symptoms for years. 

When a person begins to have signs of heart valve disease, they can experience some of the following:

  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Swelling of the feet and ankles
  • Fainting spells

The most noticeable signs may be an irregular heartbeat and shortness of breath when active, at rest, or even when lying down.

If you or someone you love is experiencing any combination of these symptoms, contact New Jersey Cariology Associates for an evaluation and testing in West Orange, Belleville, Toms River, or Clifton.

Two Main Types of Heart Valve Disease

Aortic Valve Stenosis

The flaps become stiff or fuse together preventing the valve flap from fully opening. As the opening gets smaller, it restricts blood flow and makes the heart work harder.

Aortic Valve Stenosis affects millions of Americans and is especially common among those over the age of 65.

Valve Regurgitation

Known as a leaky valve, this happens when a flap doesn’t close as it should, causing blood to flow or leak backward through the valve and into the chamber. The heart must work harder to push the blood back out.

Contact New Jersey Cardiology Associates to schedule an evaluation if you have signs of heart valve problems. Use our secure online form to request an appointment.