Published on Aug 10, 2022 and last reviewed on Jan 19, 2023 - 5 min read
The disease or damage of the valves in the largest artery (aorta) is caused by various factors. Read the article to know more about it.
The aortic valve is present in between the left chamber of the heart and the aorta. The aorta pumps blood to all the parts of the body. Any trauma or disease to the valves of the aorta affects blood circulation. It increases the stress on the left chamber of the heart and leads to various complications like heart failure.
Aorta is the largest artery that pumps blood from the heart's left chamber (ventricle) to all body parts. The aorta consists of three flaps (cusps) that open and close during blood circulation.
Damage to the valves of the aorta does not allow it to work correctly, leading to backward flow of the blood into the left ventricle.
Aortic valve disease consists of :
Aortic Valve Stenosis or narrowing occurs due to thickening or fusion of the cusps of the aortic valve, thereby restricting the blood flow to the other parts of the body.
Aortic Valve Regurgitation occurs due to improper closure of the cusps of the aortic valve. It is also referred to as aortic insufficiency.
Several factors cause the disease of the aortic valve.
By-birth aortic valve defects, wherein only two flaps (cusps) are present rather than three. It is referred to as the bicuspid aortic valve. These valves can function adequately for a few years, and later due to, any narrowing or thickening can lead to impaired functioning.
Deposition of calcium in the valves that occurs in association with an increase in age causes narrowing and stiffening of the valves.
Rheumatic fever induced by bacteria infection of the throat can lead to rheumatic heart disease.
Increased blood pressure (hypertension) levels also cause aortic valve disease.
A previous history of any heart disease can predispose to valve defects.
Infections in any other organ can spread through blood and lead to inflammation of the heart valves and chambers (endocarditis).
Other conditions like Marfan syndrome (connective tissue disorder) and inflammation of joints in the spine can rarely cause valve diseases.
The symptoms can occur suddenly or can develop gradually for years, and they are as follows:
Difficulty in breathing or shortness of breath.
Abnormal heart sounds (murmurs).
Fainting or dizziness are also observed.
Swelling in the ankles and legs.
In children, improper gaining of weight and loss of appetite were also found.
The various method involved in the diagnosis of aortic valve disease are:
Physical Examination of the patient and detailed medical and family history is necessary. Heart murmurs are heard through a stethoscope, and patients may present with cough, chest pain, and fatigue during the clinical examination. The other signs detected during the assessment of patients with aortic regurgitation are pounding pulses, alternate blushing and blanching of smaller vessels in the nail bed, bobbing of the head simultaneously with the heartbeat, etc.
Electrocardiogram (ECG) measures the heartbeat rate and the heart's activity.
Chest X-Ray is done to detect heart enlargement, inflammation, and calcium deposits in the aorta.
Computerized Tomography (CT) Scan of the heart produces a precise image of the arteries and detects any deposits.
Coronary Angiography is a procedure done along with cardiac catheterization to view the x-ray images of the heart's arteries. A thin catheter is inserted through the blood vessel of the leg or arm. Special contrast dye is injected into the catheter that moves into the heart's arteries. It helps visualize the blood flow and identify any blockage in the arteries.
Exercise Electrocardiogram Test is done to record the response of the heart to physical exercises (treadmill).
Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE) is another type of echocardiogram. It involves the insertion of a tiny probe into the throat, which passes down to the stomach. It provides a clear image of the heart vessels and chambers.
Angiotensin receptor blockers and angiotensin-converting-enzyme inhibitors are suggested to decrease high blood pressure.
Drugs to control cholesterol levels are also suggested.
Antibiotics are prescribed to treat any bacterial infections.
Routine physical examination and patient monitoring are crucial in preventing valve disease progression.
Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) is a surgical procedure of inserting a new valve through a catheter inside the diseased valve. It is used in case of a severe narrowing of the aortic valves. It is mainly preferred, as smaller incisions are made. The patient recovers fast after the surgery.
Open Aortic Valve Surgery involves replacing or repairing the diseased and defective aortic valves. It is replaced with mechanical (made of metal) or tissue (animal or human) valves. In this procedure, large incisions are made by the surgeon to visualize the heart directly, and the patient's recovery is slow.
Ross Procedure is primarily preferred in younger patients, and it replaces the diseased aortic valve with another heart valve (pulmonary valve). Then it is replaced with any other tissue valve, which tends to grow in children in later years.
Balloon Valvuloplasty is another procedure done chiefly on children and younger patients. It increases the opening of the valve and improves the blood flow. A catheter with a balloon on the tip is inserted in the narrowed valve, and it is inflated.
Regular monitoring of blood pressure levels.
Avoid smoking and drinking habits.
Improve physical activity.
Maintain a good diet that is rich in nutrition.
Treat the infection with appropriate antibiotics.
Aortic valve diseases have a severe impact on the quality of life. Therefore a routine checkup with your cardiologist regarding hypertension and other disorders will help in early management and prevent the advancement of the disease.
Last reviewed at:
19 Jan 2023 - 5 min read
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