A large crowd of people.

A deadly condition that
affects millions

What is heart
valve disease?

Heart valves and heart valve disease

Heart valve disease affects more than 5 million people in the US, with roughly 25,000 deaths each year.

Your heart has four valves that help blood flow through your body. When your heart is healthy, your valve flaps open and close properly to keep blood flowing in the right direction. As you get older, you can develop heart valve disease (HVD) and one or more of your valves may stop working as well, which makes it harder for your heart to pump blood through your body.

Although it’s more common in people over 65, HVD can happen at any age. If you don’t do anything about it, heart valve disease can get worse and even lead to death.

Recognize the symptoms

There’s no way to prevent heart valve disease, so it’s important to recognize the often subtle symptoms in yourself or a loved one. Don’t mistake them as just a part of getting older. Remember, symptoms are your heart’s way of telling you something is wrong.

Listen to your heart to recognize the symptoms of heart valve disease, no matter how subtle

Lightheaded, faint, or dizzy feelings

Irregular heartbeat, heart flutter, or chest pains

Shortness of breath after light activity or while lying down

Tiredness, even if they’ve had plenty of sleep

Edema (swelling of the ankles and feet)

Not feeling like themselves (missing out on daily activities)

Heart valve disease doesn’t always come with symptoms at first.

Sometimes you can develop heart valve disease and not have symptoms right away. Other diseases and illnesses, like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), have similar symptoms.

This is why it’s so important to ask your doctor about an echocardiogram. It’s one of the most accurate ways to tell if you or a loved one has heart valve disease.

Have you talked to your doctor about heart valve disease?

Use these tools to help start a conversation with your doctor or to find a location for a heart screening.

Discussion Guide

Our full discussion guide can help you talk about heart valve disease and your symptoms with your doctor during in-person appointments.

Download our discussion guide

Find a Doctor

Use this Healthgrades® tool to find a doctor in your area who can screen your heart for heart valve disease.

Find a Doctor

Edwards Lifesciences does not endorse or recommend any particular physician and search results do not include a comprehensive list of doctors in your area.

What can put me at risk of heart valve disease?

There’s no one cause of heart valve disease, but it’s important to know what can put you at risk:

Older age. People 65 and older are at a significantly higher risk

Family history of heart disease or heart valve disease

Chronic kidney disease

Personal history of heart conditions or heart infections

High blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and other heart disease risk factors

Heart conditions since birth (congenital heart disease)

Less common risk factors for heart valve disease are tumors, certain medicines, and radiation. Talk to your doctor and get checked.

Take our questionnaire to learn more

Next Section

What are the three different types of heart valve disease?