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About Valve Disease

The cardiovascular specialists at UPMC in Central Pa. provide expert care for heart valve disease.

What is heart valve disease?

Heart valve disease usually arises from two main types of malfunctions:

  • Regurgitation (or leakage of the valve). Regurgitation occurs when your valve does not close completely, causing the blood to flow backward through your valve. As a result, your heart is forced to pump more blood on the next beat, making it work harder.
  • Stenosis (or narrowing of the valve). Stenosis occurs when your valve opening becomes narrowed, limiting the flow of blood out of your ventricles or atria. As a result, your heart is forced to pump blood with increased force in order to move blood through the narrowed or stiff (stenotic) valve.

Heart valves can develop regurgitation and stenosis at the same time. Also, more than one heart valve can be affected at the same time.

When heart valves fail to open and close properly, your heart can be seriously affected and may not be able to pump blood adequately throughout your body. Heart valve problems are one cause of heart failure. The mitral and aortic valves are most often affected by heart valve disease.

What are the symptoms of heart valve disease?

The symptoms of heart valve disease vary depending on the type of heart valve disease you have, and which valve is affected. Common symptoms may include:

  • Chest pain
  • Palpitations caused by irregular heartbeats
  • Migraine headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Low or high blood pressure, depending on the type of valve disease
  • Shortness of breath
  • Abdominal pain due to an enlarged liver (if there is tricuspid valve malfunction)

Symptoms of heart valve disease may resemble other medical conditions and mild heart valve disease may not cause any symptoms at all. If you think you may have heart valve disease, you should consult your doctor for a diagnosis.

Who is at risk for heart valve disease?

The causes of heart valve disease vary depending on the type of heart valve disease you have. However, certain conditions may put you at an increased risk of developing heart valve disease, including:

  • A history of rheumatic fever
  • A history of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes
  • Damage caused by a heart attack
  • Damage caused by an infection
  • Changes in your heart valve structure due to aging
  • A congenital birth defect
  • Syphilis, if left untreated
  • Myxomatous degeneration, an inherited connective tissue disorder that weakens the heart valve tissue

How can I prevent heart valve disease?

You may not be able to control some of your risk factors for heart valve disease, such as aging and congenital conditions. However, eating a heart-healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, quitting smoking, limiting alcohol, avoiding recreational drugs, and controlling chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol may help to lower your risk.

See how we diagnose heart valve disease.

Need more information?

Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery Practices
Cumberland/Dauphin/Franklin/Perry Counties: 717-731-0101
Pediatric : 717-761-0200
Hanover: 717-637-1738
York: 717-849-5576
Lancaster/Lititz: 717-299-5000
Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery: 717-231-8555

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Our Providers

Find a UPMC HVI Provider. 

Locations

UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute
Located at Lebanon Valley Advanced Care Center
1251 East Main Street
Suite 3
Annville, PA 17003

Adult Cardiology: 717-731-0101
Pediatric Cardiology: 717-761-0200

UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute
360 Alexander Spring Road
Carlisle, PA 17013

Adult Cardiology: 717-243-6557
Pediatric Cardiology: 717-761-0200
Fax: 717-243-0102

UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute
1000 North Front Street
Wormleysburg, PA 17043

Adult Cardiology: 717-731-0101
Pediatric Cardiology: 717-761-0200
Fax: 717-731-8359 

UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute
900 Century Drive
Suite 100
Mechanicsburg, PA 17055

Phone: 717-591-3660 or 800-248-0257
Fax: 717-591-3661

UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute
Located at Medical Professional Center of Newport
300 Bretz Court
Newport, PA 17074

Phone: 717-567-7246 or 800-248-0257
Fax: 717-567-2621

UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute
Located at Brady Building
205 South Front Street
4th floor
Harrisburg, PA 17104

Phone: 717-231-8555
Fax: 717-231-8568

UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute
2808 Old Post Road
Harrisburg, PA 17110

Adult Cardiology: 717-920-4400
Pediatric Cardiology: 717-761-0200
Fax: 717-920-4401

UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute
12 Saint Paul Drive
Suite 205
Chambersburg, PA 17201

Adult Cardiology: 717-217-6881
Pediatric Cardiology: 717-761-0200
Fax: 717-217-6889

UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute
Located at Commerce Park Professional Center
20 Expedition Trail
Suite 203
Gettysburg, PA 17325

Phone: 717-637-1738
Fax: 717-646-7430

UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute
Located at UPMC Outpatient Center
2201 Brunswick Drive
2200
Hanover, PA 17331

Phone: 717-637-1738
Fax: 717-646-7430 

UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute
16324 Mount Airy Road
Lower Level
Shrewsbury, PA 17361

Phone: 717-849-5576
Fax: 717-718-9972

UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute
1600 6th Avenue
Suite 105
York, PA 17403

Phone: 717-849-5576
Fax: 717-718-9972 

UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute
1555 Highlands Drive
Suite 100
Lititz, PA 17543

Phone: 717-299-5000
Fax: 717-431-1205 

UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute (formerly Cardiac Consultants)
1697 Crown Avenue
Suite 100
Lancaster, PA 17601

Phone: 717-299-5000
Fax: 717-431-1205

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