What are the most common heart valve problems?
Although there are four heart valves, most patients have troubles with either their aortic valve, which controls blood flow from the heart into the aorta, the main artery to the body, or their mitral valve, through which blood flow from the lungs returns to the left atrium and then moves across the mitral valve to the left ventricle. Typically, the valves either leak blood into a heart chamber or into a blood vessel, or become narrowed to the point where it is difficult for the blood to flow through them. In some cases they can be repaired; in other cases, they need to be replaced. In most situations, if the patient is healthy enough, the valves are repaired or replaced using open-heart surgery.