There are several causes of valvular heart disease, including congenital conditions (being born with it), infections, degenerative conditions (wearing out with age), and conditions linked to other types of heart disease.
- Rheumatic disease can happen after an infection from the bacteria that causes strep throat is not treated with antibiotics. The infection can cause scarring of the heart valve. This is the most common cause of valve disease worldwide, but it is much less common in the United States, where most strep infections are treated early with antibiotics.
- Endocarditis is an infection of the inner lining of the heart caused by a severe infection in the blood. The infection can settle on the heart valves and damage the leaflets. Intravenous drug use can also lead to endocarditis and cause heart valve disease.
- Congenital heart valve disease is malformations of the heart valves, such as missing one of its leaflets. The most commonly affected valve with a congenital defect is a bicuspid aortic valve, which has only two leaflets rather than three.
Signs of Valvular Heart Disease
If you or someone you’re with may be having a stroke, pay particular attention to the time the symptoms began. Some treatment options are most effective when given soon after a stroke begins.
Heart valve disease can develop quickly or over a long period. When valve disease develops more slowly, there may be no symptoms until the condition is quite advanced. When it develops more suddenly, people may experience the following symptoms:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Dizziness or fainting
- Rapid weight gain
- Irregular heartbeat