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Abnormal heart valves are those that do not fully open or close during each heartbeat. The problem can be present at birth or due to other causes like an infection with rheumatic fever. Normal heart valves act like doors. They open and close at the right time to move the blood forward and keep it from going backward. If a valve doesn't open or close like it should, then the heart muscle has to pump harder. If the workload becomes too great, then heart failure results. Sometimes surgery is needed to replace or repair a heart valve. Other times, a catheter procedure is done to help open a tight valve.