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

Yellow L on blue background with lightheaded icon, representing a symptom of aortic stenosis

Lightheaded, faint, or dizzy feelings

Yellow I on blue background with heart icon, representing a symptom of aortic stenosis

Irregular heartbeat, heart flutter, or chest pains

Yellow S on blue background with unexpanded lungs icon, representing that shortness of breath is a symptom of aortic stenosis

Shortness of breath after light activity or while lying down

Yellow T on blue background with a tired-person icon, representing that tiredness is a symptom of aortic stenosis

Tiredness, even if they've had plenty of sleep

Yellow E on blue background with an ankle icon, representing that swollen ankles are a symptom of aortic stenosis

Edema (swelling of the ankles and feet)

Yellow N on blue background with magnifying glass icon, representing that not feeling like yourself is a symptom of aortic stenosis

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.

Senior man using tablet device to read heart valve disease guides.

Heart valve disease symptoms?

Don't wait. Talk to your doctor today.

Discussion Guide

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

Download our discussion guide

Telehealth Guide

Want to schedule a live doctor appointment from home? Our telehealth guide can help you get started.

Download our telehealth guide

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:

Blue 65+ indicating that people ages 65 and older are at a significantly higher risk for heart valve disease

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

Family tree icon

Family history of heart disease or heart valve disease

Blue kidneys icon on yellow background

Chronic kidney disease

Blue heart-shaped hourglass icon on yellow background

Personal history of heart conditions or heart infections

Heart with warning icon on white and yellow background.

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

Blue icon of baby with heart, on yellow background

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.

Couple reading heart valve disease guides on tablet device together

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Next section

What are the three different types of heart valve disease?