Can a leaky heart valve cause heart failure?

A fellow caregiver asked...

I have severe leaking heart valves. Can leaky heart valves cause heart failure?

Expert Answer

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

When your heart valves do not close well, this allows blood to leak backwards, which can contribute to heart failure.  The severity of heart failure will depend on which valves are not working properly, and how severe the leaks are.  The best way to determine this is to have an echocardiogram, which is a test that takes an ultrasound picture of your heart and the valves.