Disease: Aortic valve disease

Overview

Aortic valve disease is a condition in which the valve between the main pumping chamber of your heart (left ventricle) and the main artery to your body (aorta) doesn't work properly. Aortic valve disease may be a condition present at birth (congenital heart disease), or it may result from other causes.

Types of aortic valve disease include:

Aortic valve stenosis

In this condition, the flaps (cusps) of the aortic valve may become thickened and stiff, or they may fuse together. This causes narrowing of the aortic valve opening. The narrowed valve isn't able to open fully, which reduces or blocks blood flow from your heart into your aorta and the rest of your body.

Aortic valve regurgitation

In this condition, the aortic valve doesn't close properly, causing blood to flow backward into the left ventricle.

Your treatment depends on the type and severity of your aortic valve disease. In some cases you may need surgery to repair or replace the aortic valve.

Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com

Symptoms

Some people with aortic valve disease may not experience symptoms for many years. Signs and symptoms of aortic valve disease may include:

  • Abnormal heart sound (heart murmur) heard through a stethoscope
  • Shortness of breath, particularly when you have been very active or when you lie down
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Fatigue after being active or having less ability to be active
  • Not eating enough (mainly in children with aortic valve stenosis)
  • Not gaining enough weight (mainly in children with aortic valve stenosis)
  • Swelling of the ankles and feet

When to see a doctor

If you have a heart murmur, your doctor may recommend that you visit a cardiologist. If you develop any symptoms that may suggest aortic valve disease, see your doctor.

Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com

Causes

Your heart has four valves that keep blood flowing in the correct direction. These valves include the mitral valve, tricuspid valve, pulmonary valve and aortic valve. Each valve has flaps (cusps or leaflets) that open and close once during each heartbeat. Sometimes, the valves don't open or close properly, disrupting the blood flow through your heart and potentially impairing the ability to pump blood to your body.

In aortic valve disease, the aortic valve between the lower left heart chamber (left ventricle) and the main artery that delivers blood from the heart to the body (aorta) doesn't work properly. It may not be closing properly, which causes blood to leak backward to the left ventricle (regurgitation), or the valve may be narrowed (stenosis).

Aortic valve disease may be caused by a heart defect present at birth (congenital). It can also be caused by other conditions, including age-related changes to the heart, infections, high blood pressure or injury to the heart.

Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com

Diagnosis

To diagnose aortic valve disease, your doctor may review your signs and symptoms, discuss your medical history, and conduct a physical examination. Your doctor may listen to your heart with a stethoscope to determine if you have a heart murmur that may indicate an aortic valve condition. A doctor trained in heart disease (cardiologist) may evaluate you.

Your doctor may order several tests to diagnose your condition, including:

  • Echocardiogram. This test uses sound waves to provide video images of your heart in motion. During this test, specialists hold a wandlike device (transducer) on your chest. Doctors may use this test to evaluate your heart chambers, the aortic valve and the blood flow through your heart.

    This test can help doctors closely look at the condition of the aortic valve, and the cause and severity of your condition. It can also help doctors determine if you have additional heart valve conditions. Doctors may also use a 3-D echocardiogram.

    Doctors may conduct another type of echocardiogram called a transesophageal echocardiogram to get a closer look at the aortic valve. In this test, a small transducer attached to the end of a tube is inserted down the tube leading from your mouth to your stomach (esophagus).

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG). In this test, wires (electrodes) attached to pads on your skin measure the electrical activity of your heart. An ECG can detect enlarged chambers of your heart, heart disease and abnormal heart rhythms.
  • Chest X-ray. A chest X-ray can help your doctor determine whether the heart is enlarged, which can indicate certain types of aortic valve disease. It can also show whether you have an enlarged blood vessel (aorta) leading from the heart or any calcium buildup on the aortic valve. A chest X-ray can also help doctors determine the condition of your lungs.
  • Cardiac computerized tomography (CT) scan. A cardiac CT scan uses a series of X-rays to create detailed images of your heart and heart valves. Doctors may use this imaging technique to measure the size of your aorta and look at your aortic valve more closely.
  • Cardiac MRI. A cardiac MRI uses magnetic fields and radio waves to create detailed images of your heart. This test may be used to determine the severity of your condition and evaluate the size of the aorta.
  • Exercise tests or stress tests. Exercise tests help doctors see whether you have signs and symptoms of aortic valve disease during physical activity, and these tests can help determine the severity of your condition. If you are unable to exercise, medications that have similar effects as exercise on your heart may be used.
  • Cardiac catheterization. This test isn't often used to diagnose aortic valve disease, but it may be used if other tests aren't able to diagnose the condition or to determine its severity.

    In this procedure, a doctor threads a thin tube (catheter) through a blood vessel in your arm or groin to an artery in your heart and injects dye through the catheter to make the artery visible on an X-ray. This provides your doctor with a detailed picture of your heart arteries and how your heart functions. It can also measure the pressure inside the heart chambers.

Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com

Complications

Aortic valve disease can cause complications, including:

  • Heart failure
  • Stroke
  • Blood clots
  • Heart rhythm abnormalities
  • Death

Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com

Lifestyle and home remedies

You'll have regular follow-up appointments with your doctor to monitor your condition.

Your doctor may suggest you incorporate several heart-healthy lifestyle changes into your life, including:

  • Eating a heart-healthy diet. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, low-fat or fat-free dairy products, poultry, fish, and whole grains. Avoid saturated and trans fat, and excess salt and sugar.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight. Aim to keep a healthy weight. If you're overweight or obese, your doctor may recommend that you lose weight.
  • Getting regular physical activity. Aim to include about 30 minutes of physical activity, such as brisk walks, into your daily fitness routine.
  • Managing stress. Find ways to help manage your stress, such as through relaxation activities, meditation, physical activity, and spending time with family and friends.
  • Avoiding tobacco. If you smoke, quit. Ask your doctor about resources to help you quit smoking. Joining a support group may be helpful.

For women with aortic valve disease, it's important to talk with your doctor before you become pregnant. Your doctor can discuss with you which medications you can safely take, and whether you may need a procedure to treat your valve condition prior to pregnancy.

You'll likely require close monitoring by your doctor during pregnancy. Doctors may recommend that women with severe valve conditions avoid pregnancy to avoid the risk of complications.

Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com

Coping and support

If you have aortic valve disease, here are some steps that may help you cope:

  • Take medications as prescribed. Take your medications as directed by your doctor.
  • Get support. Having support from your family and friends can help you cope with your condition. Ask your doctor about support groups that may be helpful.
  • Stay active. Aim to stay physically active. Your doctor may give you recommendations about how much and what type of exercise is appropriate for you.

Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com

Risk factors

Risk factors of aortic valve disease include:

  • Older age
  • Certain heart conditions present at birth (congenital heart disease)
  • History of infections that can affect the heart
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • History of radiation therapy to the chest

Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com

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