The heart is one of the most important organs in the human body. The function of the heart is to pump blood. The human heart has four chambers. Each chamber has its own valve to make sure blood flows in the right direction. The aortic valve is the last of the four valves that blood passes through before leaving the heart. The job of the aortic valve is to pump that oxygen-rich blood into the aorta, the largest blood vessel in your body.
The aortic valve has leaflets which open and closes during each heartbeat. In some heart diseases, the valve does not open or close properly disrupting the blood flow to the body. This may lead to the valve leaking and is called valvular regurgitation.
Another form of valve disease is valvular stenosis that commonly affects the aortic valve. This condition occurs due to calcium build-up on the leaflets leading to the stiffing of the valve. The severity of aortic stenosis increases with age and can be classified as mild, moderate, and severe. The stiffing of the valve prevents it from opening fully which reduces or blocks the blood flow from the heart to the rest of the body.
When the blood flow through the aortic valve is reduced or blocked, your heart needs to work harder to pump blood to your body. Eventually, this extra work limits the amount of blood it can pump, and this can cause symptoms as well as possibly weaken your heart muscle.
Calcium build-up in the valve, heart defects at birth and rheumatic fever are some of the causes of aortic stenosis.
Some people with aortic valve stenosis may not experience any symptoms for many years.
Signs and symptoms of aortic valve stenosis may include:
- ·Abnormal heart sound (heart murmur) heard through a stethoscope
- ·Chest pain (angina) or tightness with activity
- ·Feeling faint or dizzy or fainting with activity
- ·Shortness of breath, especially when you have been active
- ·Fatigue, especially during times of increased activity
- ·Heart palpitations — sensations of a rapid, fluttering heartbeat
- ·Not eating enough (mainly in children with aortic valve stenosis)
- ·Not gaining enough weight (mainly in children with aortic valve stenosis)
If you have the above symptoms, don’t worry. Visit your doctor today.