While certain minor heart valve problems may not require treatment, it is critical that advanced heart valve disease be treated. If it is not treated, it can lead to serious health problems:
- Heart failure. This condition describes when the heart can no longer pump blood the way it should, because it cannot fill with enough blood or it lacks the pumping power to send blood to the rest of the body. Symptoms of heart failure include fatigue; reduced appetite; dry, hacking cough, often worse when lying down; shortness of breath, especially at night; fainting; and weight gain and or swelling of the feet, ankles and abdomen.
- Stroke. During a stroke, blood flow to the brain is interrupted, either by a blood clot or by a break in a vessel carrying blood to the brain, resulting in brain damage or death.
- Blood clots. When blood forms a clot, it clumps as it hardens from a liquid to a solid. Blood clots can restrict or block the flow of blood to tissues, resulting in tissue damage or death.
- Death due to sudden cardiac arrest. When the heart stops beating suddenly and unexpectedly, it is called cardiac arrest. Death usually occurs if sudden cardiac arrest is not treated within minutes.
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