Yesterday I went to a hospital and heard a doctor say that one of the heart valves of a patient is not working. However, the patient was still alive and was healthy; the patient could walk and talk too. I could not understand it because I have read that all valves of heart are extremely important. I have tried searching on google but all I could find was heart attack problems.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ See the following articles on wikipedia to get your head around that topic: aortic insufficiency and aortic stenosis. You can also look for stenosis or insufficiency of the mitral, tricuspid, or pulmonary valves, all on wikipedia. $\endgroup$
    – Raoul
    May 1, 2015 at 19:47

1 Answer 1


It is not possible that one of the valve is completely closed and the person is still alive without being in ICU. I think what the doctor was trying to communicate to the patient was that one of the valves is in the process of complete closure. There are three main types of diseases associated with heart valves :-

1- Blood flows backwards 2- Heart valve opening becomes narrow 3- upper condition may lead to complete closure

For details see the following link:-

http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hvd http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pulmonary_atresia

Hope you understand. :)

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    $\begingroup$ "Not working" can also mean that the valve cannot close, instead of being permanently closed. $\endgroup$
    – March Ho
    May 1, 2015 at 14:21
  • $\begingroup$ @MarchHo Even if the valve cannot close properly, will there not be problem in blood supply. If what I am saying is right then patient should be in ICU. But as I said before patient was looking fine. $\endgroup$
    – NigHterz
    May 1, 2015 at 15:01
  • $\begingroup$ @NigHterz If the insufficiency or stenosis of the heart valve becomes severe, it will lead to death even with extensive care in the ICU. The only treatment is valve replacement, either by surgery or interventional cardiology. However, people do just fine with a minor defect. For example, a minor degree of mitral insufficiency can be found in almost 30% (depending on sources) of people, and they often never even learn about it in their lifetime. They live normally and practice sports. $\endgroup$
    – Raoul
    May 1, 2015 at 19:54
  • $\begingroup$ @NigHterz 'But as I said before patient was looking fine', These problems often develop gradually and the impact gradually increases. The patient you saw may be fine as along as they are sitting, but they may be unable to climb a flight of stairs or walk more then a few dozen yards, without feeling short of breath. $\endgroup$ Jul 12, 2018 at 2:37

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