Your risk of developing heart valve disease is influenced by a variety of factors including age and gender, family history, and your overall health history.
Age and gender
Men over 65 and women over 75 are at greater risk for acquired valve disease. Valve leaflets thicken and become less pliable as we age. Sometimes the tissues that connect the leaflets to the heart stretch or tear. These deteriorations compromise the smooth movement and flexibility that allow the leaflets and consequently the valves to work as they should.
Some valve problems may run in families. Be sure to learn as much as you can about your family history and share that with your doctor. On example is bicuspid aortic valve disease, which is a congential heart valve disease where the aortic valve have two leaflets instead of three innormal cases.
Certain infections (such as rheumatic fever at young age), heart failure, kidney disease, hypertension, or metabolic disorders can increase your risk of heart valve disease.
High blood pressure
Persistent high blood pressure can overwork and enlarge your heart. As the heart enlarges, the tissues encircling the valves stretch and cause leaks. Learn more about high blood pressure here.
Autoimmune diseases like lupus can cause inflammation that affects the heart valve leaflets and damages the valves.
Chemotherapy and radiation for cancer
Cancer drugs or radiation therapy can compromise heart valve function. Damage from cancer treatment may take years to trigger symptoms.
Congenital disorders like bicuspid aortic valve disease, Marfan’s syndrome that affect connective tissues like cartilage can affect the shape and function of heart valves.
Some diet medications have been linked to heart valve problems. These conditions commonly improve after the medicines are discontinued.
A heart attack can damage or scar the heart muscle that support the valve structure causing the valve to leak.
Cardiomyopathy is condition that affects the hearts muscle (also called congestion heart failure) causing the heart to become enlarged. This can cause the tissue encircling the valves to stretch and pull the valves, causing them to leak.
Infections can travel from other parts of your body like your gums, skin, lungs to blood stream and eventually finds a spot on the heart valves causing valves to damage. The risk for valve infections increases in patients with compromised heart valve function. Learn more about endocarditis here.
Recurrent and untreated strep throat can result in rheumatic fever which lead to heart valve infection and damage. This inhibits smooth movement of the valves. Rheumatic fever can affect any of the four heart valves, but it more commonly affects the aortic and mitral valves which are on the left side of the heart. Learn about rheumatic fever here.
Certain metabolic disorders like Fabry’s disease, high blood cholesterol, or parathyroid conditions may be associated with enzyme or mineral imbalances that damage heart valves.