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Heart Valve Disease

Heart valve disease refers to conditions that prevent one or more of the valves in the heart from functioning properly. Left untreated, heart valve disease can reduce the quality of life and become life-threatening. In many cases, heart valves can be surgically repaired or replaced, restoring normal function and allowing a return to normal activities.

More than 5 million Americans are diagnosed annually with a valve disease.

Common causes of valve disease include rheumatic fever, birth defects, degeneration over time and infection. This can be caused by valvular stenosis or valvular insufficiency.

Signs & Symptoms

When the heart valves begin to fail, the heart beats harder to compensate for the reduced blood flow. Over time, valve disease may cause these symptoms:

  • Increasing shortness of breath
  • Palpitations
  • Edema (swelling of the ankles, feet or abdomen)
  • Weakness or dizziness
  • Quick weight gain
  • Chest discomfort


An exam by a Deborah Specialty Physician may also reveal fluid in the lungs, an enlarged heart, or a heart murmur, which is the sound made by blood moving through a stenotic or a leaky valve. Heart valve disease can also be found on several medical tests:

  • Echocardiogram 
  • Cardiac catheterization (angiogram)
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG)