What is a heart valve?
Heart valves help ensure your blood flows in one direction at a steady pace.
Blood flows through your body, picks up oxygen in your lungs, continues on and flows into your heart. As blood flows through your heart, four valves open and close with each heart beat to make sure blood moves in the right direction and doesn't leak back out toward your lungs. The four valves are the tricuspid, pulmonary, mitral and aortic valves.
What is heart valve disease?
There are several causes and types of valve disease, but there are two end results:
- valve tissue becomes stiffer
- narrows the opening
- forces the heart to work harder
- reduces blood flow
- the valve tissue loosens
- widens the opening
- allows blood to leak backward through the valve
How is heart valve disease treated?
There is no cure for heart valve disease, but lifestyle changes and medicines often can treat symptoms well enough to delay complications for many years. Eventually, though, you may need surgery to repair or replace a faulty heart valve.
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