Below is a brief elaboration of each valve’s location:
- Mitral Valve – Found on the left side of the heart, separating the left atrium from the left ventricle. Interestingly, this valve only contains 2 leaflets, while the other valves have 3.
- Tricuspid Valve – Located between the right ventricle and right atrium.
- Pulmonic Valve – Located between the pulmonary artery and right ventricle.
- Aortic Valve – Located between the left ventricle and the aorta.
Heart valve disease occurs when one or more of the heart valves fail to function normally. There are 3 types of alterations that occur in the heart valves:
Stenosis. This refers to a flap that has thickened, stiffened, or fused together. Because of this, the flap is no longer able to open completely, resulting in decreased blood flow to the chamber below the affected valve.
Regurgitation. This is the backflow of blood and occurs when a valve does not close completely, allowing blood to leak back into the previous or upper chamber in relation to the affected valve. This is commonly due to a flap that bulges back into the upper heart chamber (atria), a condition known as a heart valve prolapse.
Atresia. This is a congenital condition where there is no opening between the chambers of the heart.
Valvular heart disease may be caused by age-related changes, infections, birth defects, or other conditions, and can ultimately alter the ability of your heart to pump blood throughout your body. It should be noted that congenital heart valve disease commonly involves the pulmonary or aortic valves, while acquired heart valve disease usually affects the mitral or aortic valves.