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Heart Valve Diseases

Your heart has four valves. Normally, these valves open to let blood flow through or out of your heart, and then shut to keep it from flowing backward. But sometimes they don't work properly. If they don't, you could have:

  • Regurgitation - when blood leaks back through the valve in the wrong direction
  • Mitral valve prolapse - when one of the valves, the mitral valve, has "floppy" flaps and doesn't close tightly. It's one of the most common heart valve conditions. Sometimes it causes regurgitation.
  • Stenosis - when the valve doesn't open enough and blocks blood flow

Valve problems can be present at birth or caused by infections, heart attacks, or heart disease or damage. The main sign of heart valve disease is an unusual heartbeat sound called a heart murmur. Your doctor can hear a heart murmur with a stethoscope. But many people have heart murmurs without having a problem. Heart tests can show if you have a heart valve disease. Some valve problems are minor and do not need treatment. Others might require medicine, medical procedures, or surgery to repair or replace the valve.

NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Health Checkup

Regular health exams and tests can help find problems before they start. They also can help find problems early, when your chances for treatment and cure are better. Which exams and screenings you need depends on your age, health and family history, and lifestyle choices such as what you eat, how active you are, and whether you smoke.

To make the most of your next check-up, here are some things to do before you go:

  • Review your family medical history
  • Find out if you are due for any general screenings or vaccinations
  • Write down a list of issues and questions to take with you

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