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What are the symptoms of heart valve disease (valvular heart disease)?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

Some people who have valvular heart disease do not show symptoms. There are varying degrees of valvular disease, and not all cause problems right away. Because valvular heart disease can cause the heart to work harder, enlarge and ultimately lead to congestive heart failure, symptoms like shortness of breath, fatigue, fainting, chest pain and ankle swelling may appear as the disease progresses. You may also experience arrhythmias, or irregular heartbeat patterns; your heart may feel like it is racing or skips beats on occasion.

If you have heart valve disease, you may have no warning signs. Additionally, heart valve symptoms are not a reliable indicator of how serious your condition may be. You may have no symptoms but need prompt treatment. Or you may have severe symptoms, but your valve problem may be minor.

Because the severity of symptoms may or may not match the severity of the disease, it is important to see a doctor for diagnosis if you experience any symptoms of heart valve disease. And if you experience an increase in symptoms, it is critical that you ask to see your doctor immediately.

Symptoms of heart valve disease include the following:

  • Shortness of breath and/or difficulty catching your breath. This can occur during exertion, during normal daily activities or while lying in bed.
  • Weakness or dizziness.
  • Syncope (passing out). Passing out or fainting may also indicate valve disease.
  • Chest discomfort. Heart valve disease patients may experience chest discomfort, especially when they are active or step out into the cold.
  • Heart palpitations. This feels like a fast or irregular heartbeat or like your heart is flip-flopping.
  • Swollen ankles and feet or swelling in the abdomen, possibly with a bloated feeling in your stomach. Your doctor may refer to the swelling as edema.
  • Fast weight gain. A two- or three-pound gain in a day is possible.

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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.