A person with aortic valve disease may initially experience no symptoms or mild to moderate symptoms such as fatigue. As valve disease worsens and the body can no longer compensate for problems with blood flow, more serious symptoms may arise, including:
Congestive heart failure symptoms (most notably shortness of breath, either at rest or accompanying exertion),
Angina pectoris or chest pain,
Back pressure from fluid buildup in the lungs,
Heart palpitations, or awareness of one's own heartbeat,
Arrhythmias, a disturbance in the rate or rhythm of the heartbeat, and
Aortic valve disease can be caused by a malformation that is present at birth (congenital). For example, some aortic valves do not have the normal three cusps or leafs, but rather two, leaving them susceptible to damage and to calcium buildup on and around the valve.
Aortic stenosis can occur with age or because of atherosclerosis, which is the buildup of cholesterol and fat (plaque) on the artery walls.
Causes of aortic regurgitation include:
Degeneration of the valve leaflets,
Enlargement of the diameter of the base of the aorta, called aortic root or annular dilatation,
Endocarditis, a bacterial infection of the inner layer of the heart muscle, or endocardium,
Dissection of the aorta, or a split or tear in the aorta wall,
During an examination, a physician could diagnoses aortic valve disease while listening with a stethoscope for heart murmurs, or sounds of abnormal valve function that causes abnormal blood flow through the heart. The physician will confirm the diagnosis by ordering tests, including echocardiography, which uses sound waves to create a moving picture of the heart, showing its size and shape, as well as how the heart chambers and valves are working.
People with mild or moderate aortic valve disease may require no treatment.
Valve replacement may be required in more severe cases, during which a surgeon replaces the defective valve with a natural or synthetic valve. A percutaneous aortic valve replacement is a new procedure that could replace the aortic valve through the blood vessels, as opposed to replacement by open heart surgery. This procedure is usually reserved for patients who are considered high risk for surgery.