Heart valve disease affects an estimated 8.7 to 11.6 million Americans. When valve problems occur, they usually involve regurgitation or backflow when a valve doesn’t close tightly or stenosis, which is the tightening of a valve, not allowing it to fully open, thereby increasing the work the heart has to perform in order to pump the blood through the valve. Heart valve disease can involve one valve or several in combination, but the aortic and mitral valves are the ones most frequently affected.
It’s no secret you need to take care of your heart. Low-activity lifestyles, high-fat diets, smoking, hereditary conditions – all of these contribute to weakening your heart and, in turn, can lead to any number of heart valve diseases. Here are some of the most common forms of heart valve disease, what they mean for your heart, and how to prevent them.