- Four main causes of heart valve disease include age, congenital defect, family history, and infection or inflammation
- Early diagnosis and treatment are critical for reducing risk of complications
- If you are 65 or older, ask your doctor to listen to your heart
Inside your heart are four small but very important valves that play a key role in keeping blood flowing in the right direction around your body. When those valves aren’t functioning the way they should be, it can be serious and even life-threatening – but symptoms of heart valve disease are frequently misunderstood by patients as normal signs of ageing .
The first step to assessing if you may be at risk of developing heart valve disease is to understand the main underlying causes, which include :
- Age: Our heart valve muscles can weaken or become damaged as we age, which is why older adults are more commonly diagnosed.
- Congenital defect: Some people are born with heart valve diseases affecting the anatomy of the heart.
- Family history: Like many diseases, genetics can play a role in whether you will or won’t develop heart valve disease and can run more commonly in some families. If you have a close family member with a heart valve disease, it may be worth a trip to your doctor.
- Infection or inflammation: Scar tissue formed in the heart from a serious bacterial infection or inflammation can make it difficult for the valves to open and close properly.
While heart valve diseases are serious, the good news is they are treatable. Treatment involves replacing the diseased valve (either through a surgical operation or catheter procedure), repairing valve leaflets (the thin flaps of tissues that allow the valve to open and close), or splitting a narrowed valve (also known as stenotic valve) with a balloon. 
If you have a heart valve disease, early diagnosis and treatment is the best way to avoid future complications. To get a diagnosis, you’ll need to pay a visit to your doctor so they can listen to your heart. 
The first sign of heart valve disease is usually a heart murmur – and if your doctor detects one, they may perform other tests, such as an echocardiogram, to determine what may be causing it.
If you are 65 years or over, get familiar with the signs and symptoms of heart valve disease, ask your GP to listen to your heart and get practical steps to better protect your heart health.
Information on this material includes educational information regarding certain conditions and potential therapies or treatment options. Other therapies or treatment options may be available, and you should discuss any educational information you access online with your healthcare professional. Appropriate treatment for individuals is a matter for healthcare professionals to decide in consultation with each individual.
NewHeartValve.com.au and design logo are trademarks of Edwards Lifesciences Corporation. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.
 Alliance for Aging Research. Aortic Stenosis: Under-Diagnosed and Under-Treated. 2008. Accessed November 24, 2020.
 Mayo Clinic Staff. Accessed December 7, 2020
 Mayo Clinic Staff. Accessed September 16, 2021
 Grimard B.H. Aortic Stenosis: Diagnosis and Treatment. Amer Cad Fam Phys. 2016:371-377
© 2021 Edwards Lifesciences Corporation. All rights reserved. ANZ-2021-316. Edwards Lifesciences Pty Ltd. 2/40 Talavera Road, Macquarie Park, NSW 2113, Australia. Phone: 1800 222 601. Edwards Lifesciences (New Zealand) Ltd. PO Box 28654 Remuera New Zealand. P: 0800 222 601.