Heart Valves, Anatomy and Function | Columbia Physicians - New York (2023)

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What are the valves of the heart?

The heart consists of four chambers, two atria (upper chambers) and two ventricles (lower chambers). There is a valve through which blood flows before leaving each chamber of the heart. The valves prevent the backflow of blood. These valves are actual valves located at each end of the two ventricles (lower chambers of the heart). They act as one-way blood inlets on one side of a ventricle and one-way blood outlets on the other side of a ventricle. Normal valves have three valves, except the mitral valve, which has two valves. The four heart valves include:

  • Tricuspid valve:Located between the right atrium and the right ventricle.
  • Pulmonary pulsation:Located between the right ventricle and the pulmonary artery.
  • Mitralklappe:Located between the left atrium and the left ventricle.
  • Aortic flap:located between the left ventricle and the aorta

How do the heart valves work?

As the heart muscle contracts and relaxes, the valves open and close, allowing blood to alternately flow into the ventricles and atria. The following is a step-by-step illustration of how the valves in the left ventricle normally work:

After the left ventricle contracts, the aortic valve closes and the mitral valve opens to allow blood to flow from the left atrium into the left ventricle.

When the left atrium contracts, more blood flows into the left ventricle.

(Video) Cardiology Grand Rounds - Dr. Rebecca Hahn, 11/30/22

When the left ventricle contracts, the mitral valve closes and the aortic valve opens, allowing blood to flow into the aorta.

What is heart valve disease?

Heart valves can malfunction in one of two ways:

  1. Regurgitation (or valve leakage):The valve(s) does not close completely, causing blood to back up through the valve. This causes blood to leak from the ventricles (in the case of the mitral and tricuspid valves) into the atria or (in the case of the aortic and pulmonary valves) into the ventricles.
  2. Stenosis (or narrowing of the valve):The valve opening narrows, or the valves become damaged or scarred (stiffness), preventing blood flow from the ventricles or atria. The heart is forced to pump blood with greater force to move blood through the narrowed or stiff valve(s).

Heart valves can present both dysfunctions at the same time (regurgitation and stenosis). Several heart valves can also be affected at the same time. When heart valves do not open and close properly, the consequences for the heart can be serious, potentially affecting the heart's ability to properly pump blood throughout the body. Heart valve problems are one cause of heart failure.

(Video) Part 1: Introduction to the Guidelines and Review of Aortic and Mitral Imaging
(Video) Surgical Anatomy of the Aortic Valve & Aortic Root - Dr Levi Bassin


What is the anatomy and function of heart valves? ›

The valves prevent the backward flow of blood. These valves are actual flaps that are located on each end of the two ventricles (lower chambers of the heart). They act as one-way inlets of blood on one side of a ventricle and one-way outlets of blood on the other side of a ventricle.

Which heart valve is most likely to have a problem? ›

Any valve in the heart can become diseased, but the aortic valve is most commonly affected. The other common type of heart valve condition happens when the opening of the valve is narrowed and stiff and the valve is not able to open fully when blood is trying to pass through; this is called stenosis (Figure 2).

How do you fix a leaky heart valve naturally? ›

9 Natural Ways to Strengthen Your Heart Valves
  1. Look at Your Plate. ...
  2. Pop Some Fish Oil. ...
  3. Keep Your Weight in Check. ...
  4. Decrease Salt Intake. ...
  5. Get Better Sleep. ...
  6. Move Around. ...
  7. Try Meditation. ...
  8. Up Your Dental Hygiene.
May 28, 2021

What are valves and their function? ›

Blood passes through a valve before leaving each chamber of the heart. The valves prevent the backward flow of blood. Valves are actually flaps (leaflets) that act as one-way inlets for blood coming into a ventricle and one-way outlets for blood leaving a ventricle.

What are the different functions of valves? ›

Valves provide several functions, including:

Regulating flow and pressure within a piping system. Controlling the direction of flow within a piping system. Throttling flow rates within a piping system. Improving safety through relieving pressure or vacuum in a piping system.

What drugs cause heart valve damage? ›

Ergot derivatives (ergotamine and methysergide) were the first drugs linked to valvulopathy. Subsequently, other drugs, such as fenfluramine, pergolide, and cabergoline, have been implicated in causing valvular abnormalities [1].

What are the signs of needing a heart valve replacement? ›

If your heart valve(s) becomes damaged or diseased, you may have the following symptoms:
  • Dizziness.
  • Chest pain.
  • Breathing difficulties.
  • Palpitations.
  • Edema (swelling) of the feet, ankles, or abdomen (belly)
  • Rapid weight gain due to fluid retention.

Which heart valve is most likely to leak? ›

Overview. Mitral valve regurgitation is a type of heart valve disease in which the valve between the left heart chambers doesn't close completely, allowing blood to leak backward across the valve. It is the most common type of heart valve disease (valvular heart disease).

Which heart valve is most commonly repaired? ›

The mitral valve is the most common valve to be repaired. Only rarely is the tricuspid valve or the pulmonic valve repaired or replaced.

Which heart valve is most important? ›

The aortic valve is the final valve that oxygen-rich blood passes through before exiting the heart and coursing through the rest of the body. The valve prevents blood from flowing back to the left ventricle.

What vitamins are good for a leaky heart valve? ›

Only one nutrient, magnesium, is thought to be helpful for symptoms related to mitral valve prolapse. But vitamins that work in conjunction with magnesium, especially vitamin B6, also are often recommended by some experts.

What exercises strengthen heart valves? ›

Examples: Brisk walking, running, swimming, cycling, playing tennis and jumping rope. Heart-pumping aerobic exercise is the kind that doctors have in mind when they recommend at least 150 minutes per week of moderate activity.

What are the 4 main valves of the heart? ›

The 4 heart valves include the following:
  • Tricuspid valve. Located between the right atrium and the right ventricle.
  • Pulmonary valve. Located between the right ventricle and the pulmonary artery.
  • Mitral valve. Located between the left atrium and the left ventricle.
  • Aortic valve.

What are the main parts of valves? ›

These parts include the valve seat, disc, glands, spacers, guides, bushings, and internal springs.

What are the three main types of valves? ›

They are linear, rotary, and self-actuated. There are a variety of valve types within each of these categories each having its own benefits. This training course is focused on rotary and linear actuated valves.

What is a valve anatomy? ›

valve, in anatomy, any of various membranous structures, especially in the heart, veins, and lymph ducts, that function to close temporarily a passage or orifice, permitting movement of a fluid in one direction only. A valve may consist of a sphincter muscle or two or three membranous flaps or folds.

What foods should I avoid with leaky heart valves? ›

Cut out foods that are high in saturated fats, such as full fat whole milk and other dairy products, high fat cuts of meat and tropical oils, and trans fat that is typically found in margarine, baked goods, crackers and fried fast foods.

Can you live a normal life with a mild leaky heart valve? ›

People with mild mitral valve regurgitation often live long, full lives and never require treatment. But once the condition becomes severe and begins to affect your heart's ability to pump blood, you may need surgery to prevent serious complications such as congestive heart failure or even death.

Can a heart valve be repaired without surgery? ›

Answer: Yes, there's a minimally invasive procedure that uses a catheter -- TAVR -- that may be a better choice for some people who are at moderate to high risk of complications from open heart surgery. TAVR stands for transcatheter aortic valve replacement.

Can medicine fix a heart valve? ›

Although medication can't fix heart valve problems, it is sometimes part of the treatment – for instance, the blood-thinning (anticoagulant) medication that is used after receiving a prosthetic heart valve. But medication can also help if heart valve disease has led to other health problems, such as heart failure.

What is the treatment for heart valve problems? ›

  • Make healthy lifestyle changes.
  • Take medications to treat symptoms.
  • Take blood thinners to reduce the risk of blood clots if you have a certain irregular heart rhythm called atrial fibrillation.
Sep 29, 2021

What infection causes damage to heart valves? ›

Endocarditis occurs when bacteria or other germs enter the bloodstream and travel to the heart. The germs then stick to damaged heart valves or damaged heart tissue. Endocarditis is a life-threatening inflammation of the inner lining of the heart's chambers and valves.

Is it better to repair or replace a heart valve? ›

Repair or Replace? It's generally best to repair a valve and preserve a person's own heart tissue when possible. However, when the tissue is too damaged, a replacement valve may be used from another human heart, an animal or a manufactured mechanical valve.

How long can you live without a heart valve replacement? ›

Older research from 1999 notes that without surgery, the outlook for people who have symptomatic, severe aortic valve regurgitation is poor, with around 28% surviving 3 years or longer. However, treatment can improve life expectancy.

Can you live with a damaged heart valve? ›

Many people live long and healthy lives and never realize they have a mild valve problem. However, left untreated, advanced valve disease can cause heart failure, stroke, blood clots or death due to sudden cardiac arrest.

Can leaky heart valve repair itself? ›

Unfortunately, heart valves do not tend to heal themselves.

Do heart valves leak with age? ›

Leaky heart valves are a relatively common problem, especially in older adults. Over time, they can make your heart work harder, causing serious damage — and uncomfortable symptoms. Fortunately, leaky valves are treatable. “Treatments can help patients get back to living their lives,” Dr.

Does a leaky heart valve make you tired? ›

A leaking valve can certainly lead to fatigue. When a valve is leaking, some of the blood moves backward instead of moving forward. The heart has to work extra hard to handle the blood that isn't flowing efficiently. This usually leads to a reduction in blood that is ejected from the heart with each heartbeat.

What is the easiest heart valve to replace? ›

The aortic valve is one of the heart's 4 valves. The valves help blood flow through the heart's 4 chambers and out to your body normally. The surgery is called “minimally invasive” because it uses a smaller incision than a traditional open repair. This may lead to easier and faster recovery from surgery.

Which surgery is best for valve replacement? ›

Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is a minimally invasive procedure to replace a narrowed aortic valve that fails to open properly (aortic valve stenosis).

Is heart valve replacement worse than bypass surgery? ›

Combined aortic valve replacement and coronary artery bypass graft surgery carries a higher operative mortality than aortic valve replacement or coronary artery bypass graft surgery alone, but the clinical results at 1-3 year follow-up are equally satisfactory.

What foods are good for heart valves? ›

Foods that can be selected include: whole rice (brown rice), legumes (green beans, black beans, ...), oats. Some other foods good for heart valve regurgitation: Green tea. Green tea contains many polyphenols and catechins that help prevent oxidation, prevent damage to heart muscle cells, and reduce inflammation.

How many times can you have a heart valve replaced? ›

Two or 3 cardiac reoperations may be required after a 1st successful valvular surgery, due to complications that beset mechanical or bioprosthetic valves, such as degeneration.

What causes heart valve problems? ›

Common heart valve disease causes include: Rheumatic fever from strep throat that wasn't treated. Heart attack that damages your heart. High blood pressure (advanced).

Can leaky valves be cured without surgery? ›

Mild or moderate heart valve disease do not require surgical therapy, but do require close observation with a cardiologist to help manage potential symptoms. Today, we can treat many of these patients with blood pressure and cholesterol medication, and many will never require heart valve surgery.

Does CoQ10 help heart valves? ›

CoQ10 has been shown to improve symptoms of congestive heart failure. Although findings are mixed, CoQ10 might help reduce blood pressure. Some research also suggests that when combined with other nutrients, CoQ10 might aid recovery in people who've had bypass and heart valve surgeries.

How do you reverse a leaky heart valve? ›

Some of the ways your doctor can fix a damaged valve include: Annuloplasty: A special ring is put around the valve to make it close right. MitraClip: A small cut is made in your groin, and the clip is pushed up to your heart through a thin tube. It clips a small area of the flaps together to limit the leak.

Can you reverse heart valve problems? ›

Although you cannot reverse damage to a heart valve, you can slow AS by managing other heart conditions and risks. For instance, your doctor can prescribe medications to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, regulate abnormal heart rhythms or relieve fluid buildup.

Can you reverse heart valve blockage? ›

Another form of heart disease, valve disease, can also have irreparable consequences, says Dr. Nissen. “Once a heart valve becomes stiff and calcified, there is no way to restore the valve's flexibility.

What type of activity should be avoided for patients with heart valve regurgitation? ›

If you have moderate or severe mitral regurgitation, avoid high-intensity strength training. If you have moderate or severe aortic stenosis, stick to low-intensity programs. Ask your health care provider if these restrictions apply to you. Remember: Avoid straining or holding your breath when lifting.

What are signs of a heart valve problem? ›

Some physical signs of heart valve disease can include:

Chest pain or palpitations (rapid rhythms or skips) Shortness of breath, difficulty catching your breath, fatigue, weakness, or inability to maintain regular activity level. Lightheadedness or fainting.

Can EKG detect heart valve problems? ›

To further diagnose your specific heart valve condition and the extent of valve damage, your doctor may use one of the following tests: Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) Echocardiogram (Echo)

What is the main function of heart valves quizlet? ›

What is the main function of heart valves? to prevent backward flow of blood. Heart valves are one-way valves that prevent blood from flowing backward. For example, the AV valves only allow blood to flow from the atria to the ventricles.

What is the function of the heart valves quizlet? ›

The job of the heart valves is to prevent backflow of blood. The vena cava is a large artery that carries blood from the right ventricle to the lungs. The three main coronary arteries are the aorta, the left main, and the chordae tendonae.

What is the most important valve in the heart? ›

The aortic valve is the final valve that oxygen-rich blood passes through before exiting the heart and coursing through the rest of the body. The valve prevents blood from flowing back to the left ventricle.


1. Valvular Heart Disease 2020 State of the Art
(New York Transcatheter Valves)
2. Non-Surgical Option For Replacing Heart Valves
(NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital)
3. Cardiac Anatomy: Aortic Root Anatomy
4. Understanding Heart Valve Disease: Your Questions Answered
(Stony Brook Medicine)
5. Heart Failure: What it Means and the Many Effective Treatments Now Available
(University of California Television (UCTV))
6. Anatomy & Physiology of the Aortic Valve (Michael Reardon, MD) Sep. 25, 2015
(Houston Methodist DeBakey CV Education)


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