People with valvular heart disease are living longer, with less morbidity, than ever before. Advances in surgical techniques and a better understanding of timing for surgical intervention account for increased rates of survival. Echocardiography remains the gold standard for diagnosis and periodic assessment of patients with valvular heart disease. Generally, patients with stenotic valvular lesions can be monitored clinically until symptoms appear. In contrast, patients with regurgitant valvular lesions require careful echocardiographic monitoring for left ventricular function and may require surgery even if no symptoms are present. Aside from antibiotic prophylaxis, very little medical therapy is available for patients with valvular heart disease; surgery is the treatment for most symptomatic lesions or for lesions causing left ventricular dysfunction even in the absence of symptoms.