Valve disorders can cause dizziness, shortness of breath, swelling, chest pain, or more serious complications.

What are valve disorders?

Valve disorders include several conditions that range from mild to severe. If left untreated, they can cause dizziness, shortness of breath, swelling, chest pain, or more serious complications.

Learn how rheumatic heart disease can damage heart valves or cause them to function improperly.

What are the types of valve disorders? 

Valve disorders can be categorized into the following types:

  • Stenosis (narrowing): Sometimes age or disease can prevent heart valves from opening properly. The narrowing of heart valves is known as stenosis.
  • Prolapse (slipping out of place): The valve flaps do not close smoothly or evenly. Instead, they collapse backwards into the heart chamber they are supposed to be sealing off.
  • Regurgitation (backward flow): Another common problem occurs when a heart valve doesn't close securely. Regurgitation, also known as valvular insufficiency, reduces the heart's pumping efficiency.

Learn more about the types of valve disorders.

What are the symptoms of valve disorders?

Symptoms of valve disorders include:

  • Angina (chest pain)
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Shortness of breath that can result in the narrowing of heart valves
  • Swelling of hands, wrists, feet and ankles

Learn more about the symptoms of valve disorders.

What are the causes and types of valve disorders?

There are a number of causes for different valve disorders. Heart valve disease may be present at birth. It can also occur in adults due to many causes and conditions, such as infections and other heart conditions.

Learn more about the causes of valve disorders.

How are valve disorders diagnosed?

Your doctor will review your medical history and may order the following tests:

What treatment is available for valve disorders?

Heart valve problems can be treated in many ways. Your doctor may treat your condition with a combination of medication and lifestyle changes.

Diuretics may be prescribed to lower blood pressure and reduce the workload of your heart.

Surgical and other procedures include:

Valve repair

  • Valvuloplasty: Surgeons sew torn flaps of the damaged valve together so the valve may close properly.
  • Annuloplasty: Surgeons repair the ring (in medical terms the annulus) which holds the valve in place.
  • Valvulotomy: Surgeons repair a valve flap or annulus.
  • Percutaneous mitral balloon valvotomy: Surgeons insert a catheter into a vein in the right leg and guide it up into the mitral valve. There, a small balloon on the catheter's tip is inflated, opening the blocked valve.

Valve replacement

  • Mechanical valves: Designed to last many years, these are made from long-lasting metal and plastic. However, they make a clicking noise and can lead to the formation of blood clots, which may lead to a heart attack and stroke. People who get mechanical valves have to take blood thinner medication for the rest of their life to prevent clot formation.
  • Bioprosthetic valves: Tissue valves are made of human or animal tissue (from pigs or cows). Most people do not have to take life-long blood thinners with bioprosthetic valves. They are well tolerated by the body, and do not promote clot formation as seen with mechanical valves. However, bioprosthetic valves are usually not as durable as mechanical valves. More than half of patients develop problems within 15 years and must undergo further surgery. Human heart valves are well tolerated and tend to last longer than animal valves.


The following resources have information about the causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment for valve disorders: