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What is a Heart Murmur and Valve Disease?

Deep inside your heart are some hard-working structures that silently keep blood moving through your entire body. Your heart valves. They work tirelessly, opening and closing to allow blood to flow through your heart. We don’t think about them very much, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t. Here’s what you should know about valvular heart disease.

Heart Murmurs: If the blood flow through your heart sounds different, a clinician may call it a “heart murmur.” Sometimes this is completely normal and harmless and may be the unique way your heart sounds. Sometimes it could be a sign of other problems, so it’s important to know which kind of heart murmur you have and if further testing or treatment is needed.

Stenosis: Stenosis is a problem with how open your heart valve is. Sometimes, and especially when we age, valves narrow and let less blood flow through the heart. Sometimes this can result in shortness of breath, tiredness, chest pain, feeling light-headed, or even passing out. Often the symptoms are worse when you are doing more strenuous activities like climbing stairs or walking a long distance. These symptoms shouldn’t be ignored or expected as a side effect of aging. This is the most common type of valvular heart disease.

Regurgitation or Insufficiency: Regurgitation is a problem with how a valve closes. These types of conditions also affect blood flow, because the valve doesn’t close all the way, causing blood to flow in the wrong direction. This can lead to similar symptoms such as Aortic Stenosis.