The aortic valve, located between the left ventricle and the aorta, is one of the four valves that govern the one-way blood flow in the heart. The valve may fail to function soundly and become diseased, perhaps due to aortic valve stenosis or regurgitation, or it could be damaged or faulty.
In any of these cases, urgent repair or replacement is crucial to remove the excess pressure on the heart that may be struggling to maintain the blood flow and thus restore the patient’s health.
Types of Aortic Valve :
A damaged aortic valve may be an abnormality a person is born with, referred to as the bicuspid congenital aortic valve. Over time, older patients who observe a disease in the these valves are said to have acquired valve disease.
Causes of Aortic Valve Disease:
Aortic valves can be faulty at birth, resulting from wear and tear over time, discovered at a later point, or even a complication of some other health condition one may have faced. The two dominant reasons behind the damage to the valves are as follows;
- Aortic Stenosis: The valve’s opening becomes too narrow due to the amalgamation of the clotted and taut valve leaflets, so blood is restricted from flowing out of the heart.
- Aortic Regurgitation: A leaky valve is supposed only to let the blood out. It can be caused by damage, failure to close completely, and the blood ejected from the heart upon contracting is not blocked from flowing back into the heart when it relaxes.
Symptoms of Aortic Valve Disease:
It is not rare for even the severest cases of aortic valve disease to be asymptomatic. It may also be challenging to diagnose the condition accurately due to the initial symptoms being rather vague-fatigue, low stamina, edema (swollen feet, ankles, or abdomen), and palpitations.
In a more advanced stage, a patient may experience breathing difficulties, chest pain, dizziness or loss of consciousness, and rapid weight gain due to fluid retention.
Diagnosis of Aortic Valve Disease:
To deliver the final diagnosis of aortic valves disease, physicians will analyze the symptoms discussed and conduct further examinations to confirm their hypothesis. It includes;
- Firstly, a physical exam will be carried out in which the doctor will use a stethoscope to listen to the murmur produced due to the unstable blood flow past the affected valve.
- Next, an echocardiogram will visualize the valve in question and help the doctor grasp the scale and cause of the problem. This diagnostic test may be conducted along with some exercise or IV drug infusion for a more dynamic understanding to better trace the surge.
- To get a clearer image, a transesophageal echocardiogram may be run by passing a probe through the mouth into the esophagus.
Treatment of Aortic Valves:
Once the aortic valve has severe disease and medicines are unlikely to work, a procedure to replace the valve (either with surgery or with a procedure) is recommended.
The decision to repair or replace the damaged aortic valve depends upon the patient’s condition and stage of the disease. Naturally, valve repair is a low-risk procedure and is thus more widely recommended. The popular surgery modes adopted are open-heart surgery, which involves stopping the heart for a considerable period, or minimally invasive methods using smaller incisions to minimize recovery time further.
The damaged valve may be repaired by using a ring to support it. In the severe case of replacement, artificial valves are used. These tend to be made up of carbon-coated plastic or tissues of animal or human valves taken from donors.
Stat Cardiologist provides treatment options for Aortic Valve Disease in Chicago suburbs.
Risks of aortic Valves replacement:
Major surgery such as aortic valve replacement naturally has several risks;
- Bleeding during and after the surgery is one of these common risk factors.
- Blood clots can accumulate to cause arrhythmias and, in more severe cases, a heart attack, stroke, or lung dysfunction.
- A patient may struggle with steady breathing as an after-effect of the surgery.
- Infections or wounds in the lungs, bladder, or heart valves are also possible.
- The valve repaired or replaced could fail to function correctly afterward.
- Pneumonia and pancreatitis are other side effects of the surgery.
The operative mortality may range from 1-3% or 4-8%, depending on several factors. However, it is safe to say that the majority of the survivors of the surgery will see an average life expectancy.
Complications of Aortic Valves replacement:
The less invasive the surgery is, the quicker the patient can recover. However, a more complicated surgery, such as open heart surgery, will delay this period due to complications like soreness and swelling in the wound, exhaustion, and lack of appetite, among others. The total healing time is usually 2 to 3 months.