A heart valve blockage is essentially a narrowing of one or more valves of the heart. It is often referred to as simply valve stenosis and will commonly affect either the mitral valve or the aortic valve, but you may see this blockage occur in the pulmonary valve, which is the valve between your heart and lungs. When a blockage occurs within one of the valves of this important organ, your heart, according to the Mayo Clinic, will inevitably need to work harder just to pump your blood. With this state, you'll usually begin to display certain signs and symptoms that something is wrong with your heart.
One of the more common symptoms of a heart valve blockage is palpitations of the heart, which are basically momentary episodes where the heart would flutter, pound, race or feel as if it is skipping a beat. This would happen if the blockage occurs in either the aortic or mitral valves, making it a shared symptom for these two conditions. Yet, an aortic valve blockage may also manifest as a heart murmur, which would be a "whooshing" sound as the heart beats.
Another common symptom among most heart valve blockages would be a certain amount of fatigue or exhaustion. For most people, this fatigue will be more pronounced during periods where the heart is working at a heightened level, like during exercise or physical exertion. However, this fatigue or exhaustion may manifest at times of rest, especially when the blockage is more severe. Sometimes, this fatigue may also come with dizziness, feeling lightheaded or even fainting.
Some people with a heart valve blockage, be it aortic, mitral or pulmonary, may begin to experience episodes of breathlessness or feeling winded. Much like the symptom of fatigue, this shortness of breath can become much more pronounced during times of exercise or some sort of physical exertion, but may also be present at times of rest. For a mitral blockage, you may also feel it a greater difficulty in breathing when you actually lay down.
Though not a common symptom across all heart valve blockages, there is the potential, according to the Mayo Clinic, to suffer from some level of pain or discomfort within your chest. More often than not, this pain or discomfort will be due to either an aortic or pulmonary blockage, but can be experienced with a mitral blockage as well. That being said, not all people will feel a pain with a heart valve blockage. Some people may merely feel a slight tightness within the chest to indicate that this condition is present.
On occasion, a person suffering from a heart valve blockage, namely one within the mitral valve, may notice some swelling or inflammation within the feet and ankles. This swelling can start of as almost unnoticeable and progress as the blockage worsens.
Depending on the location of the heart valve blockage, you may also begin to suffer from a relatively severe cough that feels somewhat deep. This cough will usually start off as dry or unproductive, but can progress to the point where you are actually coughing up blood.