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Aortic Valve Disease

The aortic valve regulates blood flow from the left ventricle of the heart to the aorta. There are two diseases or malfunctions of the aortic valve:

  1. Aortic valve regurgitation / insufficiency is leakage of the aortic valve each time the left ventricle relaxes, allowing blood to flow backward through the valve. As a result, the heart has to work harder to compensate for the leak. This condition is also known as a “leaky valve.”
  2. Aortic stenosis is a narrowing of the aortic valve opening and is most often caused by a buildup of calcium, which narrows the valve opening and decreases the blood flow to the heart.

Both aortic regurgitation and stenosis cause the heart to work harder and, over time, this may lead to long-term damage and, possibly, heart failure.

Bicuspid Aortic Valve Disease

Bicuspid aortic valve disease is a common heart disorder that some people are born with. This occurs when two of the three aortic valve leaflets fuse to create a two-leaflet valve or bicuspid valve. Bicuspid aortic valve disease affects approximately one to two percent of people and is at least twice as likely to occur in men as in women.

Mitral Valve Disease

Mitral valve disease is the most common form of heart valve disease in the United States. The mitral valve regulates the flow of blood received from the lungs to pass from the upper chamber of the heart to the lower chamber of the heart.

There are three main diseases of the mitral valve:

  1. Mitral valve regurgitation / insufficiency is leakage of blood backward through the mitral valve each time the left ventricle contracts. This causes an increase in pressure into the atrium, causing fluid buildup in the lungs.
  2. Mitral valve prolapse also involves blood flowing the wrong way through the valve. When the heart pumps, one or two of the valve leaflets collapse backward (prolapse) into the atrium, causing a small amount of blood to leak back through the valve.
  3. Mitral valve stenosis occurs when the valve leaflets do not fully open and, over time, it weakens the heart as it struggles to pump enough blood through the smaller valve opening.