About the disease
Aortic valve insufficiency is a heart disease, whereby aortic valve is damaged. This condition is 10 times as common in men than in women. The aortic valve is responsible for passing the blood before it exits the heart to other organs. In aortic valve insufficiency this valve is unable to close completely causing some amount of blood to flow back to the heart. As a result, heart muscles work extra hard to pump out the excessive amount of remaining blood causing blood pressure to rise. Moreover, a person does not get enough oxygenated fresh blood, causing him/her symptoms similar to anemia. If not treated on time, this condition can tire down the heart and cause development of other heart diseases. This disease tends to progress very slowly and it can be latent for years before a person starts to notice first symptoms. Aortic valve insufficiency accounts for 4% of all heart diseases.
One of the leading causes of aortic valve insufficiency is rheumatic fever. It can also develop as a result of congenital defect and previous heart infections. Long-term high-blood pressure can also affect the way aortic valve pumps out the blood.
- Shortness of breath
- Pale skin
- Chest pain
- Feeling of compression
- Episodes of fainting caused by insufficient amount of oxygen in the body
- A chest X-ray can determine if the left ventricle is enlarged, which can be an indicator of problems with aortic valve.
- An ECG measures the electrical activity of the heart, which is usually abnormal if a person has heart insufficiency. It also determines if a person has high blood pressure.
- An echocardiogram shows the image of the heart and allow the cardiologist to see if a person has aortic valve insufficiency. This test is usually enough for a final diagnosis of this disease.
- Conservative treatment includes regular monitoring of aortic valve at cardiologist along with improving the lifestyle, such as going on a healthy diet, exercising regularly and always keeping in check the blood pressure. Conservative treatment is indicated only in case insufficiency does not cause any symptoms to the person and does not present any danger.
- Aortic valve replacement is an open heart surgery. During the replacement, a surgeon removes the affected aortic valve and replaces it with either mechanical or animal valve, depending on what is more preferable for each individual case.
- Aortic valve repair is also an open heart surgery, during which a surgeon repairs the place where insufficiency takes place allowing aortic valve to close properly and restoring normal blood flow.