Aortic Valve Disease

Aortic Valve Disease

    The aortic valve is one of four valves in the heart that ensures unidirectional blood flow out of the heart to the rest of the body. The aortic valve is housed within the aortic root and is the largest artery in the body. Aortic valve disease occurs in two basic forms: stenosis and regurgitation. Aortic stenosis is a condition in which the leaflets (cusps) of the valve become restricted in their motion which is often due to calcium buildup or narrowing of the opening of the valve and decreasing blood flow from the heart. Aortic regurgitation occurs when one or more of the cusps are stretched out, torn, or stiffened preventing closure of the valve after each heartbeat, allowing backward blood flow through the valve also known as a leaky valve.
    Both aortic stenosis and regurgitation the heart is forced to work harder and less efficiently in order to maintain an adequate amount of blood flow around the body, this is an added workload on the heart and results in heart failure. Although the bicuspid aortic valve disease is present at birth, it is usually never diagnosed until adulthood because the defective valve can function for years without causing symptoms. Rarely the disease is so severe at birth that the baby develops congestive heart failure in early life. Young patients will more commonly have a heart murmur and symptoms develop in mid-life as the valve ages. If the bicuspid valve does not close completely, blood can flow backwards into the heart which caused regurgitation. Then the heart must pump the same blood out again, causing strain on the heart’s lower left chamber (left ventricle) over time the ventricle will dilate or over expand. Calcium deposits on and around the leaflets eventually cause the valve to stiffen and narrow which is known as stenosis.
    As stenosis develops the heart must pump increasingly harder to force the blood through the valve. Symptoms of a stenosis are chest pain,...