The aortic valve is a one-way flap of tissue that allows blood to exit the heart and enter the aorta. Once blood is in the aorta, it circulates the oxygen-rich blood throughout the rest of the body. The aortic valve can become stiff, narrow, or misshapen and lead to aortic valve disease.
Aortic valve disease usually falls into two types: stenosis and regurgitation. Stenosis is when the tissue of the valve or the aorta becomes stiff or starts to thicken, which narrows the valve opening and prevents blood from flowing out of the heart properly. Regurgitation is when the valve fails to close properly and blood can flow backward into the ventricle from the aorta.
Many people living with aortic valve disease don’t show symptoms, but the condition puts extra stress on your heart. If you’re at risk for aortic valve disease in Sacramento or the surrounding areas, Find a Doctor with the Dignity Health Heart and Vascular Institute of Greater Sacramento to take the right steps towards heart health.
Our cardiologists and other health experts are committed your overall well-being, offering the latest technologies and resources to prevent heart valve disease. Take advantage of our support groups, classes, and more. We also encourage you to read our newsletter, “Vital Flow,” to learn more about keeping your heart healthy.
Symptoms of Aortic Valve Disease
The most common signs and symptoms of aortic valve disease include:
- Feeling like your heart is pounding
- Shortness of breath, especially with physical exertion
- A murmuring sound when listening to the heartbeat with a stethoscope
- Chest pain, discomfort, or pressure
Some cases of aortic valve disease are congenital, meaning you were born with the condition.
For acquired (noncongenital) cases of aortic valve disease, the most common causes are:
- Infections of the aortic valve
- Aortic stenosis in which the wall of the aorta itself becomes thick and inflexible
- Congestive heart failure
- Stiffening of the valve due to calcium deposits as a result of aging
- Weakening of the valve tissue with age
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
Treating Aortic Valve Disease with Dignity Health
Treatment and prevention efforts provided your highly trained cardiologist focus on slowing the progression of damage and restoring the aortic valve to full function.
For aortic valve regurgitation, treatment options generally include medications for mild cases and valve repair or replacement surgery for advanced cardiology cases.
Medications don’t work for aortic valve stenosis. Your cardiologist may suggest a watchful waiting approach. Serious cases of aortic valve stenosis generally require surgery to repair or replace the valve. Surgical aortic valve replacement (SAVR) is the primary surgical treatment for aortic valve stenosis. During this procedure, the narrowed aortic valve is removed and is replaced with a mechanical valve or a tissue valve.
Dignity Health Heart and Vascular Institute of Greater Sacramento is among the select providers in the nation to offer patients transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR). TAVR is a less invasive procedure for heart valve replacement, designed for patients with severe aortic valve stenosis.
Aortic valve disease is not preventable in every instance because it can arise due to normal age-related changes to the tissue. However, you can help prevent aortic valve disease by promptly treating heart-related conditions like hypertension and high cholesterol and by following a heart-healthy diet and exercise program. Talk to your doctor today.
A leader in cardiovascular care, Dignity Health Heart and Vascular Institute of Greater Sacramento provides advanced aortic valve disease treatment in the Sacramento region.