Heart valve disease is the term used for a number of conditions that
affect the four valves of the heart. The best way to understand heart valve
disease is to first understand how the heart works.
How does the heart pump blood?
Your heart is divided into two separate pumping systems-right and
- The right side of your heart receives
oxygen-poor blood from your veins and pumps it to your lungs to take up fresh
- The left side of your heart receives oxygen-rich blood
from your lungs and pumps it through your arteries to your body.
Your heart has four separate chambers that pump blood-two on the
right side and two on the left side:
- Right atrium
- Left atrium
- Left ventricle
Blood travels through your heart and lungs in four steps. In each step, it must pass through a valve.
- Step 1: The right atrium receives oxygen-poor
blood from the body and pumps it through the tricuspid valve to the right
- Step 2: The right ventricle pumps the oxygen-poor blood
through the pulmonary valve to the lungs.
- Step 3: The left atrium
receives oxygen-rich blood from the lungs and pumps it through the mitral valve
to the left ventricle.
- Step 4: The left ventricle pumps the
oxygen-rich blood through the aortic valve to the entire body.
See an illustration of the
heart and its chambers, valves, and blood flow .
Disease occurs when any of the heart's valves either cannot open well
enough to let blood flow through (stenosis) or cannot close well enough to
prevent backflow of the blood (regurgitation). Heart valve disease can affect
any of the four valves in different ways, including a combination of stenosis
and regurgitation. These diseases include:
- Aortic stenosis.
- Aortic regurgitation
(also know as aortic insufficiency).
- Combined aortic stenosis and
- Mitral stenosis.
- Combined mitral stenosis and
- Tricuspid stenosis.
- Combined tricuspid stenosis and
- Pulmonic stenosis.
- Combined pulmonic stenosis and regurgitation.
mitral valve prolapse does not hinder blood flow, it
is often included in the list of heart valve diseases because it is seen
frequently and may lead to
mitral valve regurgitation.
Each of these heart valve diseases is a correctable cause of heart
failure. Because of this, prompt recognition of heart valve disease may be
critical. After the disease progresses, it can be more difficult to