What is Heart Valve Disease?

November 02, 2022

Doctors

Most people know the symptoms of a heart attack, but what about heart valve disease? We asked Renown Structural Heart Program Director, Dr. Abhilash Akinapelli, to explain more about common heart valve issues and how to treat them.

What is heart valve disease?

Heart valve disease happens when one or more of the heart’s valves doesn’t open and close correctly, which affects the flow of blood through the body. If left unmanaged, heart valve disease can lead to other complications such as stroke, blood clots or heart failure.

There are a few types of heart valve disease, including:

What are some of the signs and symptoms that someone may have issues with their heart valves?

Some people with heart valve disease might not feel any different or experience symptoms for quite some time, but if you notice any of the following symptoms, you should call your care provider:
  • Fatigue 
  • Shortness of breath, especially when you've been active or when you lie down
  • Swelling of the ankles or feet 
  • Dizziness
  • Chest pain
  • Irregular heartbeat
If your care provider listens to your heart and notices an abnormal sound or heart murmur, he or she may recommend a visit to a cardiologist who can further test for heart valve disease.

 

Are heart valve issues preventable?

There are several risk factors that can increase the chance of heart valve disease. Among them: high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. These can all be prevented by living a healthy lifestyle through a heart-healthy diet, getting regular physical activity and avoiding tobacco use.

A history of certain infections or a history of certain forms of heart disease or heart attack are also considered risk factors, as well as things out of our control, such as age and heart conditions present at birth.

 

So if you or a loved one receives a diagnosis of heart valve problems, what treatment options are available?

The Renown Institute for Heart and Vascular Health has many treatment options our heart care team can recommend. In some cases, your doctor may just want to closely watch the heart valve problem for a period. However, other options include medicine, or surgery to repair or replace the valve. Renown specializes in Transcatheter (minimally invasive) heart valve repair or replacement, including Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) and Transcatheter mitral valve repair (TMVR).