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

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Lightheaded, faint, or dizzy feelings

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Irregular heartbeat, heart flutter, or chest pains

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Shortness of breath after light activity or while lying down

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Tiredness, even if they've had plenty of sleep

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Edema (swelling of the ankles and feet)

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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.

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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:

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

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Family history of heart disease or heart valve disease

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Chronic kidney disease

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Personal history of heart conditions or heart infections

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

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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.

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Types of heart valve disease

Your heart has four valves: aortic, mitral, tricuspid, and pulmonary. All 4 of them can develop different kinds of heart valve disease: stenosis, regurgitation (insufficiency), and atresia.

Pulmonary Heart Diagram
Stenosis Icon

Stenosis

Your valve becomes stiff and has a small opening, which limits your blood flow.

Regurgitation Icon

Regurgitation

Your valve doesn’t close all the way, letting blood flow back into your heart.

Aestrisia Icon

Atresia

Your valve isn’t formed and is blocked by solid tissue. This is quite rare and usually occurs because of a birth defect.

Remember, heart valve disease usually gets worse over time. The sooner you talk to a doctor, the sooner you’ll know exactly what’s going on.

Understanding your
risk of aortic stenosis

Up to 50% of people with severe symptomatic aortic stenosis may die within two years after symptoms begin if left untreated.

Aortic stenosis is one of the most common types of heart valve disease, affecting millions in the US alone. It’s especially common in people 65 and older and affects 1 in 8 people over 75.

Aortic stenosis can vary in severity and gets worse over time. Up to 50% of people with severe symptomatic aortic stenosis may die within two years after symptoms begin if left untreated.

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