Skip to content

This information was reviewed and approved by Andrew M. Freeman, MD, FACC, FACP (12/1/2012).

Rheumatic fever was the single biggest cause of valve disease before widespread availability of good antibiotics.

Most valvular disease in the United States at the current time is due to:

  • Myxomatous degeneration: Age-related degeneration - It happens most often in elderly patients and commonly affects the mitral valve.

  • Calcific degeneration: A buildup of calcium on the aortic or mitral valves due to age or other reasons causes thickened valves which prevents them from closing well.

  • Congenital (genetic) disease: Irregularly-shaped valves that people are born with.

  • Weight loss medicines such as fen-phen and Redux: These can accelerate valvular damage.

  • Endocarditis: An infection in the lining of the heart's walls and valves. Sometimes infections can destroy the valves.

  • Coronary artery disease: This can cause functional limitations in the parts of the heart muscle which support the heart valves.

  • Hypertension: Can lead to degeneration (wear and tear injuries).

For more than 100 years, National Jewish Health has been committed to finding new treatments and cures for diseases. Search our clinical trials.