Aortic Valve Disease

What is Aortic Valve Disease?

Aortic valve disease is a condition that affects the valve that connects the aorta and the heart. It specifically affects the aorta and the left ventricle. The aortic valve is in charge of the amount and speed of blood flow out of the left ventricle of the heart and therefore is extremely important in the circulation of blood throughout the body.

Aortic valve disease can occur in two ways. These are known as aortic valve regurgitation and aortic valve stenosis. When a person has aortic valve regurgitation, their valve will not close the way it should to push blood through the aorta and away from the heart. When this happens, the blood in the aorta moves backwards into the left ventricle.  Aortic valve stenosis, on the other hand, refers to an aortic valve that is narrower than normal. When the aortic valve is narrowed, it cannot open as much as it should and the blood flow out of the heart is restricted.

Aortic valve disease can occur for a myriad of reasons. Some of these potential causes include rheumatic or scarlet fever, endocarditis (a bacterial infection in the heart), and syphilis. Congenital heart defects that a person is born with may also cause aortic valve disease as well as simple aging.

What are the Symptoms of Aortic Valve Disease?

While the two types of aortic valve disease are different, they cause many of the same symptoms.

Symptoms include

Chest pain, a sensation of tightness in the chest, shortness of breath, fatigue, heart palpitations (rapid or fluttering heartbeat), weakness or feeling faint, and swelling in the feet and ankles.

Aortic Valve Disease Causes

The heart contains four main chambers, and blood flows between them through valves to keep the heart and other body functions running smoothly. Aortic valve disease is a condition where the aortic valve between two of the heart’s chambers does not function properly. This can lead to blood flowing back into the wrong valve, or it being difficult for blood to flow into the correct one.

This disease can be the result of many different conditions and factors. In some cases, a heart defect at birth can cause this valve to work improperly. It can also be caused by health complications such as an injury to the heart, certain infections, and high blood pressure. Conditions that can raise the risk of this disease include chronic kidney disease, history of radiation therapy, ageing, heart conditions, and history of infections. Aortic valve disease can also lead to further medical complications, such as stroke, heart failure and other heart conditions, blood clots, and even death.

How is Aortic Valve Disease Treated?

Medication

When it comes to treating aortic valve disease, there are no medications that can actually correct the aortic valve abnormalities that occur. However, doctors may prescribe medications for associated symptoms of the condition. Blood pressure medication can help with aortic regurgitation to prevent fluid from building up. Beta blockers can treat chest pain associated with aortic valve disease and there are medications that can help with the irregular heartbeat that can occur.

Surgery

Most often, aortic valve disease is a condition that requires surgical interventions. The aortic valve can actually be replaced, and this is the most common surgery for aortic valve disease. The new aortic valve may come be bovine (cow), porcine (pig), or human. A mechanical or artificial valve can also be used. Sometimes, doctors can also perform an aortic valve repair surgery so that the valve does not need to be replaced entirely.

Aortic Valve Disease Prevention

While most of the conditions that often lead to aortic valve disease are not preventable, there are still steps one can take to lower their risk. If you do get throat infections, seek medical treatment early.

Exercise, healthy eating, and taking medications or eating food that lower cholesterol are good ways of helping prevent aortic valve disease and other heart conditions. Taking medicines that are used for combating high blood pressure, preventing heart attacks and heart failure, can often help prevent aortic valve disease.

If you are especially concerned or have existing conditions that could contribute to your risk of aortic valve disease, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor and ensure you are doing everything you can to prevent aortic valve disease and related conditions.

Resources
Last Reviewed:
September 12, 2016
Last Updated:
November 09, 2017
Content Source: