Aortic Valve Disease
About the Aortic Valve
The heart's four valves help direct the flow of blood through its chambers. All of these valves are composed of thin leaflets that when closed prevent a backflow of blood and when open permit the blood to move forward into the aorta.
Aortic valve Disorders
An aortic valve that fails to open properly—a condition called aortic stenosis—impairs the forward flow of blood to the body. When the aortic valve fails to close properly, there is regurgitation or backflow of blood (aortic regurgitation). In either case, the heart has to work harder to pump enough blood to the body, eventually leading to heart muscle damage.
There are many causes for aortic stenosis, including a congenitally bicuspid valve (present in 1-2% of people), but by far the most common cause is senile calcific disease. With this disease that occurs increasingly as you get older, the aortic valve leaflets harden and calcify, and opening of the aortic valve becomes progressively smaller.