Valvular heart disease (VHD) - overview

Valvular heart disease (VHD) describes any abnormality of the heart valves, including the valves on the left side of the heart: mitral and aortic valves, and the valves on the right side of the heart: the tricuspid and pulmonary valves. In a normally functioning heart, valves ensure that blood flows in only one direction and at the right time. The valves act like gates that swing open to allow blood flow and then shut tightly until the next cycle begins. Valvular heart disease consists of two types of abnormalities: stenosis, where the valve does not open completely impairing forward blood flow, and regurgitation, where the valve does not close completely allowing reversed blood flow. Abnormal blood flow often produces atypical heart sounds known as murmurs. The most common causes of valvular disease include infective endocarditis, rheumatic fever, congenital malformations, and trauma. Predisposing factors include hypertension, myocardial infarction, coronary artery disease, pregnancy, anemia, and infection. Treatment of valvular diseases often includes a combination of lifestyle changes, drug therapy, balloon valvuloplasty, or valve replacement surgery depending on the severity.

Valvular heart disease (VHD) - overview

Review Date: 7/3/2013

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