If you view your body as a machine, each of its parts work to keep the whole running efficiently. Your heart valves do an important job, opening and closing to keep blood flowing in the right direction. But if a valve isn’t working properly, it can cause stress on the body and the heart itself.\nThe heart is a muscle \u2013 and a hard working muscle, at that. If a valve does not close properly or if it does not open wide enough to let blood easily pass through, a faulty valve can force your heart to work harder and over-stress your heart. Fortunately, there are options for treatment.\nHow Do Heart Valves Work?\nYour heart has four chambers, or sections, that beat in time to keep blood flowing throughout your body. Each chamber has a valve with flaps that open to let blood flow forward, and close to stop blood from flowing backward.\nThe valves in your heart can become narrow, or leak. If this happens, you might have symptoms like:\n\nShortness of breath\nChest pain\nFatigue, or feeling very tired\nCoughing (can be dry or with blood)\nSwelling of your feet or ankles\nAnxiety\nHeart palpitations, or feeling like your heart is pounding or fluttering\nFainting\nHeart rhythm problems (arrhythmias)\n\nTypes of Valve Diseases\nIt’s always best to talk with your doctor if you have any of the symptoms listed above, because it could be a sign of a valve disease like:\n\nAortic valve stenosis\nMitral valve regurgitation\nMitral valve stenosis\n\nWhat is aortic valve stenosis?\nYour aorta is your largest artery, and your aortic valve opens and closes to let blood to flow from your heart into your aorta. Then, blood flows from your aorta out into your body.\nAortic stenosis happens when your aortic valve doesn’t open wide enough to allow enough blood to flow through it. This makes your heart work harder, which can weaken your heart and lead to heart failure over time.\nWhat is mitral valve regurgitation?\nYour mitral valve sits between the top and bottom chambers on the left side of your heart. It opens and closes to let blood flow from the top chamber to the bottom chamber.\nMitral valve regurgitation happens when the valve doesn’t close tightly and blood leaks back into the top chamber.\nWhat is mitral valve stenosis?\nMitral valve stenosis happens when the mitral valve doesn’t open wide enough to let enough blood flow through it.\nHow Are Valve\u00a0Diseases Treated?\nTreatment for valve diseases depends on the condition, how serious it is, and what symptoms you’re feeling.\nOpen heart and minimally invasive heart surgery\nHeart surgery is a common treatment option, because valves usually need to be repaired in order to work properly. Surgery can be:\n\nOpen heart, where a surgeon opens your chest to make the repair\nMinimally invasive, where a surgeon does not open your chest and instead uses a thin, flexible tube (called a catheter) or a robotic device to make the repair\n\nRobotic heart surgery\nIn some cases, robotic surgery can be used for mitral valve repair. During robotic surgery, a surgeon uses a robotic device that includes a camera and surgical tools to repair the valve. Robotic surgery uses a much smaller incision than open heart surgery, and usually means a faster recovery time for the patient.\nVisit the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute online, complete our online form, or call 1-855-UPMC-HVI (1-855-876-2484) to learn more about aortic and mitral valve diseases and treatment options.