Valvular heart disease is characterized by damage to or a defect in one of the four heart valves: the mitral, aortic, tricuspid or pulmonary.
The mitral and tricuspid valves control the flow of blood between the atria and the ventricles (the upper and lower chambers of the heart). The pulmonary valve controls the flow of blood from the heart to the lungs, and the aortic valve governs blood flow between the heart and the aorta, and thereby the blood vessels to the rest of the body. The mitral and aortic valves are the ones most frequently affected by valvular heart disease.
There are many different types of valve disease; some types can be present at birth (congenital), while others may be acquired later in life.
- Rheumatic fever may cause valvular heart disease.
- Bacterial endocarditis, an infection of the inner lining of the heart muscle and heart valves (the endocardium), is a cause of valvular heart disease.
- High blood pressureand atherosclerosismay damage the aortic valve.
- A heart attack may damage the muscles that control the heart valves.
- Heart valve tissue may degenerate with age.
- Other disorders like rheumatoid arthritis systemic lupus, orsyphilis may damage one or more heart valves.
- Medication used to treat migraine headachesand some diet drugs may promote valvular heart disease.
- Radiation therapy (used to treat cancer) may be associated with valvular heart disease.