What is the aortic valve?
The aortic valve is one of the four heart valves. It typically has three leaflets. When the heart contracts, oxygenated blood is ejected and flows through this valve to the rest of the body. An abnormal aortic valve may either leak (insufficiency/ regurgitation) or be too tight (stenosis). Either problem may be severe enough to require valve replacement.
What are the symptoms of aortic valve problems?
Aortic regurgitation will eventually lead to enlargement of the heart and heart failure symptoms such as shortness of breath with activity or lying flat. Aortic stenosis may be asymptomatic, but can cause symptoms such as chest pain (angina), fainting (syncope), shortness of breath, or heart failure. With severe aortic stenosis there is a 2% incidence of sudden death each year and once symptoms appear there is almost a 50% chance of dying within 2 years.