Heart Valve Disease


Your heart is a pump that keeps blood flowing throughout your body day in and day out. It pumps or beats about 100,000 times each day. With every beat, the heart draws blood into four different chambers and then contracts to force it out to the lungs or the rest of the body.

Types of Valvular Heart Disease

Blood flows through valves that open with each beat and then shut tightly to ensure blood does not flow or leak backward. However, like any plumbing system, parts can wear out or leak. Heart valves can develop three basic problems:

  • Regurgitation or backflow – when a valve doesn't close tightly and blood leaks backward
  • Stenosis – flaps of a valve thicken, stiffen or fuse together
  • Atresia – a heart valve lacks an opening for blood to pass through

Signs & Symptoms

Symptoms of heart valve disease can include:

  • Palpitations or rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Swelling of your ankles, feet, or abdomen
  • Rapid weight gain through fluid buildup
  • Shortness of breath and/or difficulty catching your breath
  • Weakness or dizziness
  • Discomfort in your chest

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should talk to your Mercy primary care doctor or heart specialist. 

How Is Heart Valve Disease Diagnosed?

With access to the very best diagnostic and treatment tools, your Mercy doctor can pinpoint the problem and offer you safe and effective ways to treat your condition. In addition to a physical exam, your doctor might order diagnostic tests, including:

Electrocardiogram (EKG, ECG)

An electrocardiogram measures the electrical activity of your heart


An echocardiogram uses sound waves to create a picture of the heart

Cardiac Catheterization

Cardiac catheterization consists of a flexible tube that is threaded through a blood vessel to your heart. This allows your doctor to study the inside of your arteries and use dyes to see the pumping function of your heart.

How Is Heart Valve Disease Treated?

Treatment for heart valve problems depends on the type and severity of the disease and focuses on protecting your valve from further damage, lessening symptoms and repairing or replacing valves. Treatments include:


Medications are administered to treat your symptoms and to lessen the chance of further valve damage

Balloon Vavlotomy

Balloon valvotomy is performed to widen a valve with an inflated balloon at the end of a catheter threaded to the heart

Open Heart Surgery

Open heart surgery is performed to repair or replace a damaged valve

Minimally Invasive Surgery

Minimally invasive surgery is performed to replace or repair a damaged value using a catheter, such as transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR)

Aortic Valvular Disease

Learn about the signs and symptoms of aortic valvular disease.

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