Heart Valve Function and Disorders
The tricuspid and mitral valves are located between the upper chambers of the heart (the atria) and the lower chambers (the ventricles).
The pulmonary valve is located between the right ventricle and the pulmonary artery (the large blood vessel that carries oxygen-poor blood to the lungs).
The aortic valve is located between the left ventricle and the aorta (the large blood vessel that carries oxygen-rich blood to the rest of the body).
Blood enters the heart through the atria. Blood then passes through the mitral and tricuspid valves to the ventricles. Blood is then pumped out through the pulmonary and aortic valves to the rest of the body.
With each heartbeat, each valve opens and closes at precisely the right time. This ensures that blood pumps through the heart in one direction only. If a valve doesn't close properly, blood can backflow (regurgitation). If the valve opening is too narrow (stenosis), the heart must work harder to pump blood.
Left untreated, valve disorders can cause shortness of breath, weakening of the heart muscle, congestive heart failure and death.