Aortic valve disease is a condition in which the valve between the main pumping chamber of the heart (left ventricle) and the main artery to the body (aorta) doesn't work properly. Aortic valve disease sometimes may be a condition present at birth (congenital heart disease), or it may result from other causes.
Types of aortic valve disease include:
- Aortic valve stenosis. In this condition, the aortic valve opening is narrowed. This narrowing prevents the valve from opening fully, which obstructs blood flow from the heart into the aorta and the rest of the body.
- Aortic valve regurgitation. In this condition, the aortic valve doesn't close properly, causing blood to flow backward into the left ventricle.
Most patients with calcific aortic stenosis have known of their heart murmur for many years. The critical points in defining the cardiac history in men include the results of athletic, military, insurance, or employment physical examinations. In women, pregnancy and childbearing history are important to define functional status.
Most often, aortic valve regurgitation develops gradually, and the heart compensates for the problem. There may be symptoms for years, and the person may even be unaware of the condition.
Many things can narrow the passageway between the heart and aorta. Causes of aortic valve stenosis include:
- Congenital heart defect,
- Calcium buildup on the valve,
- Rheumatic fever.
- Causes of aortic valve regurgitation (when it does not close properly) include:
- Congenital heart valve disease,
- Rheumatic fever,
Some risk factors for aortic valve stenosis include: a deformed aortic valve, age, previous rheumatic fever and chronic kidney disease.
The risk of aortic valve regurgitation is greater if you have been affected by any of the following: aortic valve damage, high blood pressure (hypertension), congenital heart valve disease, or old age.
Aortic valve stenosis can be a serious condition. If the aortic valve is narrowed, the left ventricle has to work harder to pump a sufficient amount of blood into the aorta and onward to the rest of the body. Thus it may thicken and enlarge. If left unchecked, aortic valve stenosis can lead to life-threatening heart problems, including:
- Chest pain (angina),
- Fainting (syncope),
- Heart failure,
- Irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias),
- Cardiac arrest.
When mild, aortic valve regurgitation may never cause a serious threat to the health. But when it's severe, aortic valve regurgitation may lead to heart failure, a serious condition in which the heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet the body's needs.
Some possible ways to prevent aortic valve stenosis include:
- Taking steps to prevent rheumatic fever,
- Addressing risk factors for coronary artery disease,
- Taking care of the teeth and gums.
- In case of aortic valve regurgitation be aware of conditions that contribute to developing aortic valve regurgitation, including rheumatic fever and high blood pressure.