Skip to main content

Defective Heart Valve

Four major heart valves are located within the chambers of the heart. These valves control the flow of blood through the heart by opening and closing during heart contractions.

When functioning normally, the valves keep blood travelling in one direction into the heart, through its chambers and out again.

Heart valve disorders occur when the valve does not open or close properly. A restricted valve opening may reduce the amount of blood flowing through the heart, and a valve that doesn't seal tightly may cause some blood to flow the wrong way.

Risk factors

There are a number of factors that could increase your risk for heart valve disease:


Heart valve disorders may cause a variety of symptoms, including: 

  • chest pain (angina)
  • irregular heartbeats
  • shortness of breath
  • swelling of the lower extremities (feet, ankles, hands and wrists).


The signs of a heart valve disorder can often be heard through a stethoscope. Your doctor may also order additional tests, including chest x-ray, electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) or echocardiogram.


The best treatment for you will depend on your age, your general health and the severity of your heart condition. Some heart valve problems respond well to lifestyle changes and medications.

When medical management is not enough to manage your heart valve condition, your heart specialist may recommend a valve repair or replacement. It may be possible to surgically correct defects in the valve. However, if the heart valves are too badly damaged to be successfully repaired, valve replacement is an option. Replacement heart valves may be either mechanical (metal and plastic) or bioprosthetic (from human donors or animals).

Open heart valve surgery

Under most circumstances, the best option for valve repair or replacement is to use open heart valve surgery. It involves opening the chest cavity to reach the heart valves. A cardio-pulmonary bypass machine pumps blood through the body while the heart valve is being repaired or replaced.

Transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI)

Open heart surgery may be considered too risky for people who are very ill or who have other medical problems. In this case, transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) may be recommended.

Tab Heading
SOURCE: Defective Heart Valve ( )
Page printed: . Unofficial document if printed. Please refer to SOURCE for latest information.

Copyright © Cardiac Services BC. All Rights Reserved.

    Copyright © 2024 Provincial Health Services Authority.