What are the symptoms of a damaged heart valve?

Omid Hajiseyed Javadi, MD
Thoracic Surgery (Cardiothoracic Vascular)
The symptoms of a damaged heart valve include chest pain, dizziness and swelling in the legs. Learn more in this video with Omid Javadi, MD, from Regional Medical Center of San Jose.
Timothy R. Malinowski, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Heart valves can become “damaged” or develop abnormal function for several reasons. Abnormal valve function generally occurs in one of two forms: valve stenosis, which is scarring and narrowing of the valve opening, or regurgitation, which is leakage of the valve that allows blood flow in both directions across the valve rather than the normal one direction. Some people are born with structurally abnormal valves and these valves “wear out” or develop abnormal function at a faster rate than structurally normal valves. A common reason for abnormal valve function is slow deterioration of the valve tissue with aging which results in scarring, thickening, and stiffening of the valve. If the heart becomes enlarged, valve leaflets can pull apart allowing for regurgitation. Infection can damage a heart valve in many ways and result in either stenosis or regurgitation.

Common symptoms caused by abnormal heart valve function include chest pain, dizziness, passing out, shortness of breath, swelling of the legs, progressive fatigue, and lack of energy. Abnormal heart valve function can also cause abnormal heart rhythms, which can feel like a racing, pounding, or fluttering of the heart. Both valve stenosis and regurgitation can cause these symptoms.

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The heart is a pump made of muscle tissue. The heart has four pumping chambers: two upper chambers, called atria, and two lower chambers, called ventricles. In order to keep the blood flowing forward during its journey through the heart, there are valves between each of the heart's pumping chambers. If the heart valve(s) becomes damaged or diseased, a person may experience the following symptoms:
  • dizziness
  • chest pain
  • breathing difficulties
  • palpitations
  • edema (swelling) of the feet, ankles, or abdomen
  • rapid weight gain due to fluid retention

Continue Learning about Heart and Circulatory System

Heart and Circulatory System

Heart and Circulatory System

Your circulatory system is made up of your heart and three main types of blood vessels -- arteries, veins and capillaries. Your heart is at the center of the system, acting as a pump to distribute nutrient- and oxygen-rich blood t...

hrough your body; it then takes away carbon dioxide and other waste your body doesn't need. Signs of poor circulation include cold hands and feet, numbness, dizziness, migraines, varicose veins and pain in your feet or legs. Untreated, poor circulation can lead to stroke, high blood pressure, kidney damage and other diseases. Learn more about your heart and circulatory system with expert advice from Sharecare.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.