Aortic Valve Disease

If you have an aortic valve problem, surgery may be the best way correct it. Fortunately, Northwest Regional Heart & Vascular in Portland is home to some of this region’s most experienced cardiac surgeons, with particular expertise in the latest minimally invasive surgical techniques.

Here’s a closer look at what aortic valve disease entails, and why treatment is so important:

What is aortic valve disease?

Aortic valve disease is a condition in which the valve between the left ventricle (the main pumping chamber of your heart) and the aorta (the main artery supplying blood to your body) doesn’t work properly.

Aortic valve disease may be congenital (the valve is defective at birth) and it worsens over time, or certain diseases can damage the valve.

There are two types of aortic valve disease:

  • Aortic valve stenosis (narrowing) occurs when the valve opening is smaller than normal, restricting blood flow
  • Aortic valve regurgitation, also referred to as a leaky valve, occurs when a valve doesn’t close tightly so blood leaks backwards (regurgitates)

What causes aortic valve disease?

  • A congenital heart defect
  • The buildup of calcium deposits on the valve
  • Rheumatic fever
  • Endocarditis (infection in the heart)
  • Trauma
  • Certain diseases may damage the aortic valve (Marfan syndrome, a connective tissue disease, can enlarge the aortic valve and lead to aortic regurgitation)
  • Age (valves sometimes weaken with age)

What are the symptoms of aortic valve disease?

  • Chest pain (angina) or tightness
  • Shortness of breath, especially on exertion
  • Feeling faint, or fainting on exertion
  • Extreme tiredness (fatigue), especially on exertion
  • Heart palpitations
  • Heart murmur

Why treatment of aortic valve disease is necessary

Left untreated, aortic valve disease can lead to heart failure, arrhythmias (heart rhythm disorders) or cardiac arrest.

Learn more about the treatment options for aortic valve disease that are available at Northwest Regional Heart and Vascular Center.