Illustration of the human heart

Heart Valve Disease

Illustration of the human heart

Your heart valves lie at the exit of each of your four heart chambers. They maintain one-way blood flow through your heart, making sure blood flows freely in a forward direction and doesn’t leak backward. Heart valve disease refers to problems in these valves.

Heart valve diagram

Heart Valve Disease Types

Englewood Health diagnoses and treats two main types of valve disease, which can affect any of your four valves:

  • Valvular stenosis: Your heart valve doesn’t fully open, so your heart must work very hard, which can cause heart failure.
  • Valvular insufficiency: A valve doesn’t close tightly, which causes your heart to work harder. This condition is also called regurgitation, incompetence, or “leaky valve.”

Heart Valve Disease Symptoms

You may experience any or all these symptoms:

  • Shortness of breath and/or difficulty catching your breath
  • Weakness or dizziness
  • Discomfort in your chest or heart palpitations
  • Swelling of your ankles, feet, or abdomen
  • Rapid weight gain

Heart Valve Disease Risk Factors

Risk factors for valve disease include:

  • Older age
  • A history of rheumatic fever, heart attack, heart failure, previous heart valve disease, or infective endocarditis (also having risk factors for infective endocarditis, such as intravenous drug use)
  • High blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, or insulin resistance
  • Smoking
  • Being overweight or obese, or a lack of physical activity
  • A family history of early heart disease
  • Congenital conditions that affect your aortic valve
Dr. Joseph DeGregorio

Technological advancements allow us to do more in a less invasive fashion. In cardiology, we are able to fix a lot of the problems that we find and we can do it with less invasive procedures than even just a decade ago. Things have changed a lot in the 20 years that I’ve been practicing medicine. For example, critically ill and elderly patients who were too high risk for certain procedures in the past can now be helped tremendously.

Dr. Joseph DeGregorio, Executive Director of Cardiovascular Services

Heart Valve Disease Causes

You can develop heart valve disease before birth (congenital) or during your lifetime (acquired). Although we can’t always determine the specific source of valve disease, we do know what can cause it.

If you were not born with heart valve disease but you acquire it, your heart valve becomes dilated, stiff, or torn over time. You may also have changes in valve structure resulting from diseases or infections such as rheumatic fever or endocarditis.

Other causes of valve disease include:

  • Coronary artery disease
  • Heart attack
  • Cardiomyopathy (heart muscle disease)
  • Syphilis (a sexually transmitted disease)
  • High blood pressure
  • Aortic aneurysms (bulges in the muscle wall of your aorta)
  • Connective tissue diseases

Less common causes of valve disease include tumors, some types of drugs, and radiation.

Why Choose Englewood Health for Heart Valve Disease Care?

At Englewood Health, we offer:

  • Comprehensive diagnosis and treatment for heart valve disease, including nonsurgical and surgical methods
  • Multidisciplinary team of heart valve surgeons in New Jersey, with specialized training and experience treating all forms of heart valve disease
  • Minimally invasive methods such as transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) for aortic stenosis
  • MitraClip procedures for managing mitral valve disease when surgery isn’t an option
  • A patient- and family-centered care approach that respects your concerns and includes you as an active partner in managing your health
Dr. Ramin Hastings

The treatment of valve disease is undergoing a rapid change as we speak. The traditional treatment has been open heart surgery to replace the blocked valve. Unfortunately, because this is a mechanical problem, there are no medications that can help. However, this has changed with the development of newer procedures such as transcatheter aortic valve replacement and the MitraClip procedure.

Dr. Ramin Hastings, Medical Director, Structural Heart Program
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