Heart valve disease develops if one or more of your heart’s four valves is not working properly.
One study in England alone, the OxVALVE study that examined people age 65 and older, found that 11.3% of the people had moderate or severe valve disease. A concerning finding was that most of those people, 6.4%, did not know they had heart valve disease.1
Moreover, a survey of people in Europe found that 30% didn’t know anything at all about heart valve disease.2 Clearly, education about heart valve disease is important since it can affect you or a loved one.
To learn about heart valves and how they function, it’s a good idea to first review the parts of the heart overall.
THE CHAMBERS OF YOUR HEART
The heart has four chambers. The atria are the smaller chambers on the top, and the ventricles are the larger chambers on the bottom.
Right atrium receives blood from the body that is low in oxygen.
Right ventricle pumps that low-oxygen blood to the lungs, where the blood is filled with oxygen.
Left atrium receives the oxygen-rich blood from the lungs.
Left ventricle pumps that oxygen-rich blood out to the entire body.
THE VALVES OF YOUR HEART
To move blood into or out of the four chambers, the heart has four valves.
Tricuspid valve allows oxygen-depleted blood to flow from the right atrium to the right ventricle.
Pulmonary valve allows blood to flow from the right ventricle to the lungs, where the blood receives oxygen.
Mitral valve allows oxygen-rich blood to flow from the left atrium to the left ventricle.
Aortic valve allows the oxygen-rich blood from the left ventricle out to the entire body.