Many different diseases and problems affect valves. When a doctor listens to your heart, he or she may hear a sound that suggests the heart valve is impaired. This is called a "murmur."
Causes of Valve Damage
Some people are born with heart valve abnormalities, which may be corrected at birth or later in life. Others may get an infection or disease that can damage a valve. Rheumatic fever and old age are common causes of valve malfunction. These malfunctions can cause either obstruction (narrowing) to blood flow through the valve (known as stenosis) or leakage of blood backwards (known as regurgitation or insufficiency).
Results of a Diseased or Damaged Valve
This results in the heart having to work harder. When the heart becomes tired and can no longer handle the increased work, symptoms develop. It may also cause the heart to enlarge, and become a less efficient pump, a condition known as congestive heart failure.
Common symptoms of valve disease are shortness of breath with exertion, dizziness, chest pain or pressure, fatigue, and fluid retention.