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What is Heart Valve Disease?

Heart valve disease occurs if one or more of your heart valves don't work well. The heart has four valves: the tricuspid, pulmonary, mitral, and aortic valves.

These valves have tissue flaps that open and close with each heartbeat. The flaps make sure blood flows in the right direction through your heart's four chambers and to the rest of your body.

Birth defects, age-related changes, infections, or other conditions can cause one or more of your heart valves to not open fully or to let blood leak back into the heart chambers. This can make your heart work harder and affect its ability to pump blood.

Learn more about how the heart works »


Many people have heart valve defects or disease but don't have symptoms. For some people, the condition mostly stays the same throughout their lives and doesn't cause any problems.

For other people, heart valve disease slowly worsens until symptoms develop. If not treated, advanced heart valve disease can cause heart failure, stroke, blood clots, or death due to sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).

Currently, no medicines can cure heart valve disease. However, lifestyle changes and medicines can relieve many of its symptoms and complications.

These treatments also can lower your risk of developing a life-threatening condition, such as stroke or SCA. Eventually, you may need to have your faulty heart valve repaired or replaced.

Some types of congenital heart valve disease are so severe that the valve is repaired or replaced during infancy, childhood, or even before birth. Other types may not cause problems until middle-age or older, if at all.

Who Does It Affect and What Are the Risk Factors?

Older age is a risk factor for heart valve disease. As you age, your heart valves thicken and become stiffer. Also, people are living longer now than in the past. As a result, heart valve disease has become an increasing problem.

People who have a history of infective endocarditis (IE), rheumatic fever, heart attack, or heart failure—or previous heart valve disease—also are at higher risk for heart valve disease. In addition, having risk factors for IE, such as intravenous drug use, increases the risk of heart valve disease.

You're also at higher risk for heart valve disease if you have risk factors for coronary heart disease. These risk factors include high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, smoking, insulin resistance, diabetes, overweight or obesity, lack of physical activity, and a family history of early heart disease.

Some people are born with an aortic valve that has two flaps instead of three. Sometimes an aortic valve may have three flaps, but two flaps are fused together and act as one flap. This is called a bicuspid or bicommissural aortic valve. People who have this congenital condition are more likely to develop aortic heart valve disease.

Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Baylor Scott & White The Heart Hospital – Denton

Baylor Scott & White Heart – Denton is a cardiovascular specialty hospital located in Denton, Texas. Modeled after Baylor Scott & White The Heart Hospital – Plano, our mission is to provide safe, quality, compassionate care and five-star service to our guests. We offer comprehensive, noninvasive, diagnostic cardiac and vascular services to Denton County and the North Texas region.

The Heart Valve Center of Texas

If a patient at Baylor Scott & White Heart – Denton is a candidate for Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement, or may be a candidate for a clinical research trial, then he or she will be referred to The Heart Valve Center of Texas​ in Plano. The Heart Valve Center is a specialty outpatient setting operated by Baylor Scott & White The Heart Hospital – Plano that provides specialized evaluation and treatment plans (including minimally invasive options) for patients with valve disease.

The Heart Valve Center of Texas offers a patient-focused, multidisciplinary program that combines medical quality with advanced technology to diagnose and treat heart valve disorders. This unique heart valve program features specially trained physicians in heart valve disease, including interventional cardiologists, cardiovascular surgeons, general cardiologists, cardiac imaging specialists, and others who collaborate to provide effective valve treatments and innovative research options. The team of physicians on our medical staff maintain close contact with referring physicians to ensure they are kept abreast of the patient's treatment and progress.

Physicians may refer a patient by calling 469.507.3934.

940.220.0600  469.814.3278 (HEART)

1.855.760.0600  1.855.760.0600 Toll-free

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