Structural Heart & Valve Conditions

Aortic Valve Stenosis and Regurgitation

The aortic valve controls blood flow from the heart to the rest of the body. In aortic stenosis, the valve narrows, restricting blood flow from the heart. In aortic regurgitation, the valve opening does not close completely, causing blood to leak backward into the heart. As a result of either of these conditions, the heart muscle may have to pump harder and blood flow to the body may decrease, which can ultimately lead to heart failure.

Aortic stenosis and regurgitation may occur with age, often in those older than 70. However, in patients with other heart conditions, such as bicuspid aortic valves (a valve with two “flaps” instead of three) and rheumatic valvular disease, aortic stenosis or regurgitation can occur much earlier.

Common symptoms of aortic stenosis and regurgitation include fainting, weakness or chest pain (often increasing with activity), palpitations (rapid, noticeable heart beats) and chronic heart failure.

Learn more about a minimally invasive treatment option for aortic stenosis and regurgitation.

Mitral Valve Stenosis and Regurgitation

The mitral valve controls blood flow between the upper and lower chambers on the left side of the heart. In mitral valve stenosis, the valve narrows, restricting blood flow through the heart. In mitral valve regurgitation, the valve does not close completely, allowing blood to flow backward through the valve and possibly into the lungs. As a result of either condition, the heart muscle may have to pump harder and blood flow to the body may decrease, which can ultimately lead to heart failure.

Mitral valve stenosis in adults may occur as a result of rheumatic fever (often associated with untreated strep throat or scarlet fever), the formation of calcium deposits around the mitral valve, radiation treatment in the chest and the use of some medications. Mitral valve regurgitation often occurs with age. However, the condition can also develop or worsen as a result of rheumatic fever, atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries) or endocarditis (inflammation of the lining inside the heart), among other conditions. Common symptoms of mitral valve stenosis may include chest pain (often increasing with activity), difficulty breathing, fatigue, swelling of the feet or ankles, cough, shortness of breath and palpitations (rapid, noticeable heart beats).

Learn more about a minimally invasive treatment option for mitral valve stenosis and regurgitation.

Pulmonary Valve Stenosis and Regurgitation

The pulmonary valve controls blood flow between the heart and the lungs. In pulmonary valve stenosis, the valve narrows, restricting blood flow to the lungs. In pulmonary valve regurgitation, the valve does not close completely, allowing blood to flow backward into the heart. Pulmonary valve stenosis can cause the heart to work harder, ultimately damaging the muscle and leading to heart failure, while pulmonary valve regurgitation can cause enlargement in the right ventricle, one of the four chambers of the heart.

Pulmonary valve stenosis most often occurs as a result of a congenital defect (present from birth), but can also be caused by rheumatic fever (often associated with untreated strep throat or scarlet fever) or endocarditis (inflammation of the lining inside the heart), among other conditions. Symptoms may include chest pain, fatigue, fainting and shortness of breath.

Pulmonary valve regurgitation may occur as a result of a number of conditions, including endocarditis and pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure). Symptoms may include chest pain, fainting, shortness of breath, fatigue and a bluish tint to the skin (cyanosis).

Learn more about a minimally invasive treatment option for pulmonary valve stenosis and regurgitation.

Tricuspid Valve Stenosis or Regurgitation

The tricuspid valve controls blood flow between the right atrium and the right ventricle of the heart. In tricuspid valve stenosis, the valve narrows, increasing pressure in the right atrium and decreasing blood flow to the lungs. In tricuspid regurgitation, the valve does not close entirely, allowing blood to leak backward into the right atrium.

Tricuspid valve disorders are most commonly a result of rheumatic fever (often associated with untreated strep throat or scarlet fever). Other less common causes may include congenital conditions, rheumatoid arthritis or radiation therapy in the chest.

Symptoms of tricuspid regurgitation may include decreased urination, fatigue, swelling in the abdomen, feet or ankles and abnormal pulsing experienced in the neck veins. Symptoms of tricuspid stenosis may include palpitations (rapid, noticeable heart beats), fatigue, neck discomfort and abdominal discomfort.

Learn more about a minimally invasive treatment option for tricuspid valve stenosis or regurgitation.

Septal Defects

The left and right side of the heart are separated by a wall called the septum. Some people are born with a hole in either the upper septum (atrial septal defect) or the lower septum (ventricular septal defect). When these defects are present, oxygen-rich blood from the lungs may mix with oxygen-poor blood returning from the body.

Common symptoms of a ventricular defect may include shortness of breath, hard or fast breathing and frequent respiratory infections. Common symptoms of an atrial defect may include difficulty breathing, shortness of breath with activity, heart palpitations (rapid, noticeable heart beats) and frequent respiratory infections.

Learn more about a minimally invasive treatment option for septal defects.

Patent Foramen Ovales

Foramen ovales are holes in the heart needed before birth to transfer oxygenated blood from the umbilical cord to the unborn child, bypassing the lungs, which are not used by the fetus. Soon after birth, this hole generally closes, but in about 20% of people, it does not close completely. This remaining opening is called a patent foramen ovale (PFO).

Many PFOs are relatively small and do not cause significant problems, but in some people, the opening is larger and can provide a pathway for blood clots to more easily reach the brain and cause a stroke. In these cases, treatment may be necessary to correct the defect.

Learn more about a minimally invasive treatment option for PFOs.

Paravalvular Leaks

A paravalvular leak is an opening that forms on the outer edge of a prosthetic (artificial) valve where it is secured to the heart tissue. Paravalvular leaks may occur at the site of a loose or broken suture, which can result from endocarditis (inflammation of the lining inside the heart) or poor valve placement.

Learn more about a minimally invasive treatment option for paravalvular leaks and fistulas.