Heart valve disease affects the valves that regulate blood flow through the heart. About five million Americans each year are diagnosed with heart valve disease.
Your heart has four valves — the aortic, mitral, pulmonic and tricuspid valves — that regulate blood so it flows only in one direction through the heart. Some people are born with a malformed heart valve. Others develop heart valve disease after an infection such as rheumatic fever or endocarditis damages their heart. Still others develop it with age, when the heart valves can become stiff and calcified.
There are two main types of heart valve disease: Valvular stenosis and valvular insufficiency (also called regurgitation).