A fist-sized pump composed of muscle tissue, the human heart contains four valves that open and close for blood flow. When a heart valve is functioning properly, it opens and closes fully, allowing the blood to flow in one direction only. When it is diseased, the valve can either fail to close tightly, backing up blood or fail to open completely, restricting the flow of blood. If left untreated, valve disease can result in heart failure. Fortunately, diseased heart valves can be repaired or replaced. Although some valves are abnormal at birth or as a result of a disease, such as rheumatic fever, most valves simply deteriorate as a result of the aging process. Symptoms of heart valve disease can range from mild to severe, including chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, palpitations, fainting or dizziness, swelling of the feet, ankles or abdomen, and abnormally low or high blood pressure.
For more information about the Eisenhower Smilow Heart Center’s Valve Repair Program, please call the Eisenhower Smilow Heart Center at 760-837-8450.