SIH Heart Value Disease Service

The heart has four valves—aortic, mitral, tricuspid and pulmonic—which control blood flow. Structural heart disease occurs when one of the four valves doesn’t function correctly. Each valve has flapped that open and close to move blood in one direction. When the flaps don’t work properly, they can restrict blood from moving out of the heart; they can even allow blood to leak back into the heart. If left untreated, valve disease can lead to complications such as heart failure, stroke, blood clots, arrhythmias and even death.

Two types of valve problems:

  • Regurgitation — when valve leaflets don’t close tightly and the valve leaks.
  • Stenosis — When valve leaflets thicken or fuse together, preventing the valve from opening completely.

Structural heart disease warning signs

It can be tricky. Some people don’t experience symptoms while others develop symptoms quickly, which is why it’s important to know the warning signs. These include:

  • Chest pain or rapid heartbeat
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Lightheadedness or fainting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling of the feet and ankles

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