What are the types of heart valve diseases?

Heart valves can have one of two malfunctions:

  • Regurgitation (or leakage of the valve)—The valve(s) does not close completely, causing the blood to flow backward through the valve. This results in leakage of blood back into the atria from the ventricles (in the case of the mitral and tricuspid valves) or leakage of blood back into the ventricles (in the case of the aortic and pulmonary valves).
  • Stenosis (or narrowing of the valve)—The valve(s) opening becomes narrowed or valves become damaged or scarred (stiff), inhibiting the flow of blood out of the ventricles or atria. The heart is forced to pump blood with increased force in order to move blood through the narrowed or stiff (stenotic) valve(s).

Heart valves can have both malfunctions at the same time (regurgitation and stenosis). Also, more than one heart valve can be affected at the same time. When heart valves fail to open and close properly, the implications for the heart can be serious, possibly hampering the heart's ability to pump blood adequately through the body. Heart valve problems are one cause of heart failure.

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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.