What is heart valve disease?

Heart valve disease is a condition where the heart valves do not work as they should. They can either become leaky (regurgitant or incompetent) or narrowed (stenotic). Mild heart valve degeneration is considered a normal part of the ageing process, and it is common to have mild regurgitation of the heart valves as you get older. You can be born with heart valve disease or can develop it later. Heart valve disease affects people from all walks of life and is very common – it is likely if you ask around that you will know someone with heart valve disease!




Want to know more about heart conditions

Aortic stenosis

Aortic stenosis is a condition where the aortic valve becomes thickened and is less able to open well. As a result, the blood flow across the valve is abnormal and means that a heart murmur can be heard when your heart is listened to by a stethoscope.

Aortic regurgitation

Aortic regurgitation is a condition where the one-way aortic valve doesn’t close tightly and therefore becomes leaky. Blood exits the heart when the heart muscle (left ventricle) pumps. When the heart relaxes, as the valve is leaky, blood is able to leak back into the heart.

Bicuspid aortic valve

In most people the aortic valve has 3 leaflets (tricuspid valve). About 1 in 50 people are born with an aortic valve with two leaflets (a bicuspid aortic valve.) This is due to abnormal development of the valve whilst growing in the womb and is known as a congenital abnormality. 

Mitral regurgitation

Mitral regurgitation is a condition where this one-way valve is not working correctly. Because the valve is unable to close tightly, a leak of blood occurs when the main pumping chamber of the heart (left ventricle) contracts, allowing blood to pass back across the valve back into the top heart chamber (left atrium).

Mitral stenosis

Mitral valve stenosis is a condition where there is thickening of the inlet (mitral) valve on the left side of the heart. In mitral stenosis this valve becomes thickened (stenosed) and it is then more difficult for blood to pass between the top chamber (left atrium) and bottom chamber (left ventricle). 

Mitral valve prolapse

Mitral valve prolapse is a condition where the one or two of the leaflets of the mitral valve become floppy and instead of closing properly, they billow or bulge into the top chamber of the heart (the left atrium).

Tricuspid regurgitation

Tricuspid regurgitation is a condition where the valve between the right atrium and the right ventricle is leaking. 

Pulmonary stenosis

This is a condition where the valve is thickened and does not open as easily or as well as it should.

Pulmonary regurgitation

This is a condition where the pulmonary valve (the main outlet valve on the right side of the heart) does not close completely and lets blood leaks back into the right ventricle (right-sided pump) when the heart relaxes. 

Overview valve diseases

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