Aging & Health A to Z
Heart Valve Problems
Common Cardiac Tests
Causes & Symptoms
Heart valve problems can be caused by:
- The normal wear and tear of aging
- Damage to your heart tissue from a heart attack, coronary artery disease, or heart failure
- Rheumatic heart disease, caused by rheumatic fever
- Buildup of calcium or fat deposits on your heart valves
- Thinning or tearing of the supporting tissues around the valve
- Holes that develop in a valve due to high blood pressure or kidney disease
- Certain types of diseases that affect the connective tissues, the building blocks of skin, tendons, ligaments, joints and bones.
If your symptoms are mild, such as mild fatigue or lightheadedness, your healthcare professional may choose to wait before treating valve problems.
More serious symptoms of heart valve problems include:
- Chest pain
- Feeling irregular heartbeats, such as fluttering or racing in your chest
- Shortness of breath when resting
- Severe fatigue
- Significant weight loss or weight gain
- Swelling of your extremities (edema).
If you develop any of these symptoms, notify your healthcare professional right away. If they come on suddenly, they could be a sign of acute heart failure, which is a medical emergency. Call 911 if you can’t reach your provider.
Updated: March 2012
Posted: March 2012