Symptoms & Diagnosis of Valve Disease

Symptoms of Heart Valve Disease

In its mildest forms, heart valve disease may not cause any symptoms. However, as the valve disease worsens, one can have a variety of symptoms.  Symptoms may vary depending on the type of heart valve disease present and may include:

  • Chest pains
  • Palpitations caused by irregular heartbeats or racing heartbeats
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath, especially with activity
  • Fainting spells

Symptoms of heart valve disease may resemble other medical conditions and problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis

Diagnosis of Heart  Valve Disease

Heart valve disease may be suspected if the heart sounds heard through a stethoscope are abnormal. This is usually the first step in diagnosing heart valve disease. A  heart murmur can often indicate a valve problem. To further define the type of valve disease and extent of the valve damage, physicians may use any of the following diagnostic tools:

Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) - A test that records the electrical activity of the heart, shows abnormal rhythms (arrhythmias or dysrhythmias), and may detect heart muscle damage.

Chest X-Ray - An x-ray can show enlargement of the heart or signs of congestive heart failure.

Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE) - In this test sound waves are bounced off the heart, creating a graphic image of the movement of the heart structures. A special probe is placed into the esophagus to closely visualize the heart, which lies directly in front of the esophagus within the chest. This is often the most effective way to visualize and diagnose heart valve problems.

Cardiac catheterization - This diagnostic procedure involves a tiny, hollow tube (catheter) being inserted into an artery leading to the heart in order to image the heart and blood vessels. This procedure is helpful in determining the type and extent of valve blockage, and may often be done in preparation for surgery.