There are two main types of heart valve problems:
- Regurgitation (or leakage of the heart valve) means the valve does not close completely, causing the blood to flow backward through the valve. This leakage can result in the heart having to work harder to get a reduced amount of oxygen-rich blood out to the body.
- Stenosis (or narrowing of the heart valve) means the valve opening becomes narrowed or too stiff to allow the full amount of blood flow out to the body.
A familiar example is a water hose. Just like when a person using a water hose reduces the flow of water and increases the water pressure by partially blocking the flow with the thumb, a stenotic or narrowed valve forces the heart to pump blood with increased pressure to move blood through the valve. Both the high pressure and the reduced blood flow can create problems.