Screening for Valve Disease

Are You at Risk for Valvular Heart Disease (VHD)?

Tens of thousands of men and women between the ages of 20-65 are living with, or are at risk for developing, a heart valve abnormality. The International Heart Institute of Montana specializes in the screening, diagnosis, and treatment of valvular heart disease (VHD).

VHD was once thought to be related to rheumatic fever, a secondary infection that can develop from untreated strep throat. However, despite the use of antibiotics and the decline of rheumatic fever in the U.S., the prevalence of VHD remains high. VHD is linked to other conditions and risk factors, including:

Congenital heart disorders (heart problems present at birth, usually involving the heart’s chambers or valves, such as heart murmur)
• Family history of heart valve disorders/disease
• Valve damage from chemical agents (e.g., Phen Fen, Ergot)
Coronary artery disease
• Previous infection of the heart valve (endocarditis)
• Advancing age (an individual’s risk for developing VHD increases with age)
Symptoms of VHD include:
• shortness of breath
• heart palpitations
• chest pain
• fainting
• frequent falls
• fatigue and/or decreased endurance

Early detection screening is important for individuals with a family history of VHD and those who have a heart abnormality, such as a heart murmur.


Hoag Heart Institute