Man in pain as he works on his car.

Are you or a loved one

at risk of heart valve disease?

Causes of heart valve disease

The causes of heart valve disease vary from person to person. You may be born with a heart valve
problem, or it may develop because of age or an infection. Understanding the causes of heart valve
disease and your risk will help you to be prepared in case you ever need to have one of your heart
valves replaced. You can take the necessary steps to stay on top of your heart health.

Older Age
People aged 65 years and older are at a significantly higher risk, especially when certain lifestyle habits are taken into consideration

Family History
If someone in your family has had mitral valve prolapse, bicuspid aortic valve, or early coronary heart disease, it can raise your risk

Lifestyle Habits
Lack of physical activity, unhealthy eating patterns, smoking, and obesity can increase your risk

Medical Devices
Defibrillators and pacemakers can rub against a valve and create scar tissue, or they may stimulate the heart to beat out of rhythm, which can stretch a heart valve

Other Conditions
High blood pressure, diabetes, autoimmune disorders such as lupus, and other heart conditions can raise your risk

Issues such as thickening and narrowing of heart valves may result from this type of cancer treatment

At all ages, men are more likely than women to have certain heart valve conditions, such as aortic stenosis

Subtle, not silent. Recognize the symptoms.

There’s no way to prevent your heart valve disease, so it’s important to recognize the often-subtle symptoms as soon as possible. Don’t mistake them for just another part of getting older. Symptoms are your heart’s way of sending you a signal, letting you know that 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 after 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. If you have heart valve disease and are experiencing symptoms, it could be a sign that your heart is working too hard.

If your aortic stenosis (a type of heart valve disease) becomes severe and you experience symptoms, it means you have heart valve failure and treatment is needed right away.

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 have heart valve disease and to monitor its progression.

See if you’re at risk

It’s not always easy to tell if you or a loved one has heart valve disease. There aren’t always symptoms, and if there are, they can be subtle. But if you know the risks associated with heart valve disease, you should talk with your doctor about whether a heart screening is right for you.

Take a few minutes to answer the questions below and get a personalized discussion guide to use when talking with your doctor about heart valve disease.

How old are you?


If you are over the age of 65, heart valve disease can be a risk factor, especially if your lifestyle habits also raise your risk.

Please select an option.

Have you ever been told you have a heart murmur?

Please select an option.

Does your family have a history of heart valve conditions?

Please select an option.

Have you ever had an ultrasound of your heart, which is called an echocardiogram (echo)?

Please select an option.

Which risk factors do you have?


Select all that apply.

Please select an option.

Which of the following lifestyle choices apply to you?


Select all that apply.

Please select an option.


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Next Section

How can I get screened for heart valve disease?