Aortic valve disease - symptoms and causes (2023)

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Aortic valve stenosis

Aortic valve disease - symptoms and causes (1)

(Video) Aortic Valve Disease: What causes it and how is it treated?

Aortic valve stenosis

Aortic valve stenosis causes a thickening and narrowing of the valve between the heart's main pumping chamber (left ventricle) and the body's main artery (aorta). Narrowing creates a smaller opening for blood to pass through. Blood flow from the heart to the rest of the body is reduced or blocked. Typically, the aortic valve has three cusps (tricuspid aortic valve), but some people are born with an aortic valve that has two cusps (bicuspid aortic valve).

Aortic valve regurgitation

Aortic valve disease - symptoms and causes (2)

Aortic valve regurgitation

In aortic valve regurgitation, the aortic valve does not close properly, causing blood to flow backwards from the body's main artery (aorta) into the lower left chamber of the heart (left ventricle).

Aortic valve disease is a type of heart valve disease. In aortic valve disease, the valve between the lower left heart chamber (left ventricle) and the main artery in the body (aorta) does not work properly.

The aortic valve helps blood flow in the right direction through the heart. A damaged or diseased aortic valve can affect blood flow to the rest of the heart and body.

Aortic valve disease includes:

  • Aortic valve stenosis.The leaflets (nodules) of the aortic valve become thick and rigid or fuse together. These problems cause narrowing of the valve opening. A narrowed valve reduces or blocks the flow of blood from the heart to the rest of the body.
  • Aortic valve regurgitation.The aortic valve does not close properly, causing blood to flow backwards into the heart's left lower chamber (ventricle).

Aortic valve disease can be present at birth (congenital heart disease) or it can appear later in life due to other medical conditions.

Treatment of aortic valve disease depends on the type and severity of the disease. Some people may need surgery to repair or replace their aortic valve.


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

  • Heart murmur or murmur (heart murmur)
  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Dizziness
  • Unconsciousness
  • Fatigue after activity or reduced capacity for activity
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath, especially during vigorous activity or when lying down
  • Insufficient nutrition (mainly in children with aortic valve stenosis)
  • Not gaining enough weight (mainly in children with aortic valve stenosis)

When to see a doctor

If you experience sudden chest pain, seek immediate medical attention.

(Video) Heart Valve Disease - Causes, Symptoms and Treatments and More

Make an appointment with your doctor if you have signs or symptoms of valve disease, such as shortness of breath, tiredness after activity, or a pounding or irregular heartbeat. Sometimes the first signs of aortic valve disease are related to heart failure. Contact your doctor if you have fatigue that does not go away after rest, shortness of breath, and swollen ankles and feet, which are common symptoms of heart failure.

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Chambers and valves of the heart

Aortic valve disease - symptoms and causes (3)

Chambers and valves of the heart

A typical heart has two upper and two lower chambers. The upper chambers, the right and left atrium, receive incoming blood. The lower chambers, the muscular right and left ventricles, pump blood from the heart. The heart valves, which keep the blood flowing in the right direction, are the doors on the openings of the chambers.

Aortic valve disease can be caused by a heart defect at birth (congenital heart defect). Other causes of aortic valve disease later in life include:

  • Age-related heart changes
  • Infections
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart injury

To better understand the causes of aortic valve disease, it may be helpful to know how heart valves normally work.

The heart has four valves that keep blood flowing in the right direction. These valves are:

  • Aortal zalistak
  • Mitral valve
  • Tricuspid sinuses
  • Pulmonary valve

Aortic valve stenosis

Aortic valve disease - symptoms and causes (4)

(Video) Aortic Valve Disease, Animation

Aortic valve stenosis

In aortic valve stenosis, the opening of the aortic valve is narrowed (top row). The narrowing requires increased pressure within the heart to pump blood through the smaller opening. Eventually, this reduces the heart's ability to pump blood around the body. This is similar to attaching smaller and smaller nozzles to the end of a garden hose (bottom row). The taper from the nozzle slows the forward flow of water and results in an increase in pressure inside the garden hose.

Each valve has leaflets (cusps or leaflets) that open and close once during each heartbeat. Sometimes the valve does not open or close properly. This can reduce or block blood flow through the heart to the rest of the body.

In aortic valve disease, the valve between the lower left heart chamber (left ventricle) and the body's main artery (aorta) does not work properly. The valve may be thickened and stiff (stenosis) or may not close properly, causing blood to flow backwards.

Risk factors

Many things can increase the risk of aortic valve disease, including:

  • Older age.Calcium deposits can build up on the aortic valve as people age, causing the aortic valve to stiffen and narrow.
  • Problems with heart valves present at birth (congenital heart defects).Some people are born with a missing, extra, or fused valve (a lump), which increases the risk of aortic valve regurgitation.
  • Rheumatic fever.This complication of strep throat can cause aortic stenosis, a type of valve disease. If you have heart valve disease due to rheumatic fever, it is called rheumatic heart disease. If not, it is called non-rheumatic heart disease.
  • Inflammation of the lining of the heart chambers and valves (endocarditis).This life-threatening condition is usually caused by an infection. It can damage the aortic valve.
  • History of chest radiation therapy.Some types of cancer are treated with radiation therapy. Symptoms of heart valve disease may not be noticed until many years after receiving radiation therapy.
  • Other health conditions.Chronic kidney disease, lupus, and Marfan syndrome, a connective tissue disease, can increase the risk of aortic stenosis or regurgitation.


Potential complications of aortic valve disease may include:

  • Blood clots
  • Stroke
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Heart rhythm problems (cardiac arrhythmias)
  • Death due to sudden cardiac arrest

Proper diagnosis and treatment can help reduce the risk of complications.

Mayo Clinic staff

Aortic valve disease care at the Mayo Clinic

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November 17, 2021


(Video) Aortic Stenosis - Causes , Symptoms , Pathology , Diagnosis and Treatment
  1. Bonow RO, et al., eds Aortic valve disease. In: Braunwald's heart disease: a textbook of cardiovascular medicine. 11th ed Elsevier; 2019. Accessed August 7, 2021.
  2. Buji LM, et al., eds Valvular heart disease. In: Cardiovascular Pathology. 4th ed Elsevier; 2016. Accessed August 15, 2021.
  3. Crawford MH, editor Aortic Stenosis. In: Current Diagnosis & Treatment: Cardiology. 5th ed McGraw-Hill; 2017. Accessed August 7, 2021.
  4. Crawford MH, eds Aortic regurgitation. In: Current Diagnosis & Treatment: Cardiology. 5th ed McGraw-Hill; 2017. Accessed August 7, 2021.
  5. Fuster V, et al., eds Aortic valve disease. In: Heart of Hurst. 14th ed McGraw-Hill; 2017. Accessed August 7, 2021.
  6. Heart-healthy lifestyle changes. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Accessed August 15, 2021.
  7. Heart valve disease. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Accessed August 8, 2021.
  8. Otto CM, et al. 2020 ACC/AHA Guidelines for the Management of Patients with Valvular Heart Disease: Executive Summary. Circulation. in 2021; doi:10.1161/CIR.0000000000000932.
  9. Braswell-Pickering EA. Allscripts EPSi. Mayo Clinic. June 26, 2021.
  10. Otto CM, et al. 2020 ACC/AHA guidelines for the management of patients with valvular heart disease: A report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Joint Committee on Clinical Practice Guidelines. Journal of the American College of Cardiology. in 2021; doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2020.11.018.
  11. Phillips SD (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic. September 30, 2021


  • Aortic valve disease
  • Aortic valve stenosis

Related procedures

  • Aortic valve repair and aortic valve replacement
  • Heart valve surgery
  • Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR)

Aortic valve disease

  • Care at the Mayo Clinic


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  • Aortic valve disease
(Video) Aortic Stenosis - Overview (signs and symptoms, pathophysiology, treatment)


What are the signs and symptoms of aortic valve disease? ›

Aortic valve disease can cause a number of symptoms, including:
  • Shortness of breath (especially with physical activity, or in aortic valve insufficiency, when lying flat and at night)
  • Chess discomfort, tightness, or pain.
  • Fainting, feeling faint, or dizziness.
  • Fatigue.
  • Weakness.
  • Heart palpitations.

What are the most common causes of aortic valvular disease? ›

Aortic stenosis is most commonly caused by atherosclerosis, a calcium buildup on the aortic valve over time. These calcium deposits that often come with age make the valve tissue stiff, narrow and unyielding.

Does vitamin D cause aortic stenosis? ›

Conclusions: Vitamin D and or Calcium supplement intake worsens aortic stenosis progression and increases the need for AVR. It does not have a significant impact on mortality.

What are the three major symptoms of aortic stenosis? ›

An irregular heart sound (heart murmur) heard through a stethoscope. Chest pain (angina) or tightness with activity. Feeling faint or dizzy or fainting with activity.

What causes aorta problems? ›

Thoracic aortic aneurysms are usually caused by high blood pressure or sudden injury. Sometimes people with inherited connective tissue disorders, such as Marfan syndrome and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, get thoracic aortic aneurysms.

How do you fix aortic valve disease? ›

Aortic valve replacement typically requires open-heart surgery, which involves a cut (incision) in the chest. Sometimes, surgeons can use a minimally invasive procedure called transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) to replace a narrowed aortic valve with a biological tissue valve.

What does a failing aortic valve feel like? ›

Fatigue: With increased activity, you may feel tired and weak. Shortness of breath: You may have a hard time breathing deeply, especially when lying down or after being active. Swollen ankles and feet: Swelling may occur when the flow of blood is disturbed.

How do you know if your aortic valve is failing? ›

Signs and symptoms of aortic valve disease may include: Whooshing or swishing heart sound (heart murmur) Chest pain or tightness. Dizziness.

Can taking too much vitamin D cause heart problems? ›

High doses of vitamin D can raise blood levels of calcium (hypercalcemia), which can damage the heart, kidneys, and blood vessels.

What vitamins are good for heart valves? ›

8 heart health supplements to take – and one to avoid
  • Multivitamin & mineral. Vitamins and minerals taken in appropriate doses may aid in lowering heart disease risk. ...
  • Coenzyme Q10 (Co Q10) Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a substance similar to a vitamin. ...
  • Fiber. ...
  • Omega-3 fatty acids. ...
  • Magnesium. ...
  • L-Carnitine. ...
  • Green tea. ...
  • Garlic.
Jan 30, 2018

What are red flags for aortic stenosis? ›

Shortness of breath, chest pain, light-headedness or blackouts can be a clear indication of severe aortic stenosis.

What medications should be avoided with aortic stenosis? ›

The patient with severe aortic stenosis is relatively "afterload fixed and preload dependent" -- meaning cardiac output does not increase with after-load reduction. Thus all afterload reducing agents (angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, calcium channel blockers, blockers) are contraindicated.

What weakens the aorta? ›

High blood pressure can damage and weaken the aorta's walls. Blood vessel diseases. These are diseases that cause blood vessels to become inflamed.

What disease is associated with the aorta? ›

Aortic Conditions and Diseases We Treat

Aortic Aneurysms. Aortic Valvular Disease. Aortic Occlusive Disease. Traumatic Aortic Disease.

What is the most common abnormality of the aorta? ›

Double Aortic Arch

The subclavian and carotid arteries arise from their respective arches. The right and left arches may be symmetric, but usually the right arch is larger, extends more cephalad and is more posterior than the left arch (Fig. 15). This anomaly is most common cause of a complete vascular ring (5).

How do you detect aortic disease? ›

Screening and diagnostic tests

Screening for aortic aneurysm is usually done using ultrasound. This test shows if the diameter of your aorta is bigger than it should be. If it is larger than normal, your provider may recommend another screening later to check for growth.

What are the symptoms of needing a heart valve replaced? ›

If your heart valve(s) becomes damaged or diseased, you may have the following symptoms:
  • Dizziness.
  • Chest pain.
  • Breathing difficulties.
  • Palpitations.
  • Edema (swelling) of the feet, ankles, or abdomen (belly)
  • Rapid weight gain due to fluid retention.


1. All you need to know about Heart Valve Disease | Dr Priyank Bhatt
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2. Leaky Heart Valves - Causes, Symptoms & Treatments
3. Aortic Valve Disease TAVR Treatment
(Providence Swedish)
4. Aortic Valve Disease Symptoms And Causes | Yashoda Hospitals | Ayushman Bhava | 10TV News
(10TV News Telugu)
5. Aortic Stenosis: Signs and Symptoms – Valvular Heart Disease | Lecturio
(Lecturio Medical)
6. Valve related Heart Disease & its Treatment | Dr. Rahul Sharma
(Narayana Health)


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