Can you name a symptom of heart valve disease? If you can’t, you’re not alone. Three out of four Americans know little or nothing about heart valve disease. That’s why on February 22, the specialists at the James Family Heart Center at Dignity Health, Yavapai Regional Medical Center (YRMC) are joining other experts throughout the U.S. to participate in Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day.

Heart valve disease is not only a serious condition, it’s often difficult to detect or dismissed as a “normal” part of aging. While it can be disabling and deadly, heart valve disease can be successfully treated in patients of all ages—if treatment is timely.

Listen to Your Heart
If your heart valves don’t open enough (stenosis) or they can’t close properly (pulmonary valve insufficiency), you could be among the 11 million Americans with heart valve disease. People with the condition experience a variety of symptoms that are often subtle. Here’s an easy-to-remember list of symptoms, which spell out the word “listen.”

  • Lightheaded, faint or dizziness
  • Irregular heartbeat, heart flutter or chest pains
  • Shortness of breath after light activity or while lying down
  • Tiredness, even after plenty of sleep
  • Edema (swelling of the ankles and feet)
  • Not feeling like yourself (missing out on daily activities)

Heart valve disease is often diagnosed when a cardiologist detects a murmur – an irregular and often rapid heart rate – during a physical examination. This “murmur” is not genetic, like other heart murmurs. Lifestyle is a major contributing factor to the condition. You can minimize your risk of developing heart valve disease by:

  • Not smoking
  • Eating a heart-healthy diet
  • Exercising regularly
  • Getting annual checkups to detect heart-related issues early

Treatments for Heart Valve Disease
Specialists at the James Family Heart Center perform heart valve replacement surgery and the following minimally invasive procedures to replace or repair damaged heart valves:

Learn more about the heart care services at YRMC’s James Family Heart Center.