Skip to Main Content

Breaking Down Aortic Valve Disease

February 08, 2024 Posted in: Heart Health

Aortic valve disease involves narrowing (stenosis) and leaking (regurgitation), straining the heart. Stenosis makes it work harder, and regurgitation can cause heart failure symptoms. Understanding the root cause and managing symptoms is crucial for a healthier heart.

What causes aortic valve disease?

Aortic valve disease can be linked to genes (like a bicuspid valve), diabetes, and lifestyle choices such as diet and smoking.  When your physician suspects an issue, they’ll listen to your heart, listening for specific heart sounds (systolic ejection or diastolic murmurs).  They may also recommend a heart ultrasound (transthoracic echocardiogram) to confirm the diagnosis.

What are complications and symptoms of aortic valve disease?

Ignoring aortic valve disease can result in heart failure, chest pain, dizziness, and leg swelling.  Patients might not notice slow-progressing symptoms like fatigue and leg swelling, which could be overlooked.

Treatment options for aortic valve disease

Treating aortic valve disease depends on the issue. Aortic regurgitation may need open-heart surgery, and aortic stenosis might involve open valve replacement or a less invasive procedure called a transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR).

Recovery time varies after treatment.  TAVR patients often leave the hospital in a day and return to work in a week, while open-heart surgery patients may have lifting restrictions for a few months.

Medications and long-term outlook

Managing symptoms and slowing progression can be challenging, but medications focus on heart failure.  Timely treatment offers a positive long-term outlook, letting patients return to their everyday lives.

Follow-ups typically occur at two weeks, one month, and two months post-surgery, with initial frequent heart ultrasounds transitioning to annual check-ups for monitoring.

Lifestyle changes

Lifestyle changes are crucial, including a balanced diet, regular exercise, and quitting smoking. Those who have had a valve replacement should also keep in mind what valve type has been put in. Those with metal valves are typically on blood thinners and should avoid particular foods like leafy greens. 

Understanding aortic valve disease is essential.  Early detection and proper care significantly improve outcomes and quality of life for those dealing with this condition.

Dr. Brett Melnikoff

Surgical treatment

Brett Melnikoff, MD, cardiothoracic surgeon with The Chattanooga Heart Institute at CHI Memorial, provides surgical solutions for those who suffer with aortic valve disease. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Melnikoff call (423) 624-5200.  

Related Articles

Heart Disease in Women

JAN 17, 2024

Heart disease encompasses a range of conditions affecting the heart and blood vessels. This includes coronary artery disease, heart failure, arrhythmias, and valvular heart diseases. In women, these conditions may manifest differently than in men, ma...

Read More

Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors

JAN 17, 2024

Cardiovascular disease – sometimes referred to as CVD – is a term that encompasses various conditions affecting the heart and blood vessels. To help us understand, let’s take a closer look at three terms: cardiovascular disease, heart disease, and co...

Read More

What's Considered High Blood Pressure

NOV 12, 2023

Blood pressure is a vital measure of your cardiovascular health. Understanding your blood pressure reading is crucial for maintaining overall well-being. It's typically represented as two numbers: systolic and diastolic.

Read More