What Is the Aortic Valve?
Your aortic valve is an essential barrier between your heart and your body. When it works properly, the aortic valve is a one-way valve that separates the left ventricle, the main pumping chamber of your heart, from your aorta, the main artery that carries oxygenated blood to your entire body.
With each heartbeat the left ventricle fills with blood and as the pressure inside the ventricle builds, the valve opens to allow the blood to pass into the aorta, where it will be carried throughout your body.
Types of Heart Valve Disease
There are two primary diseases that can occur with the aortic valve:
- Aortic stenosis: A condition where the aortic valve narrows and cannot open all the way.
- Aortic insufficiency: A condition where your aortic valve fails to close properly once the blood enters the aorta.
It’s important to understand and recognize the causes, symptoms, and treatments for these two types of aortic valve disease.
Preventing Aortic Valve Disease
If you develop aortic valve disease because of a congenital heart defect, you cannot prevent the disease. However if you don’t have a congenital heart defect, there are some steps you can take to reduce the risk of developing aortic valve disease.
Take antibiotics when you have strep throat to prevent rheumatic fever. Strep throat can be easily tested at your doctor’s office and antibiotics can usually treat this disease quickly and effectively. This will help you avoid complications that can lead to rheumatic fever and heart damage.
Reduce your risk of heart disease by:
- keeping your blood pressure under control,
- managing diabetes appropriately,
- maintaining healthy cholesterol levels (and having your cholesterol checked regularly), and
- maintaining a healthy body weight to avoid obesity.
Take care of your teeth and gums. There is increasing evidence that having healthy teeth and gums and avoiding gingivitis can reduce the risk of endocarditis, which is an infection in heart tissue that could damage the aortic valve.
Brushing and flossing daily and seeing your dentist every six months for a cleaning and checkup can reduce your risk of developing gum disease.
Valvular Heart Team
Schedule a Consultation
Need to see an aortic specialist? First thing to do is get a referral from your primary care doctor. Once you have referral and have made an appointment, you can prepare for your appointment by:
- Letting your insurance know you have an appointment and reviewing your insurance coverage.
- Having a copy of your medical history ready.
Meet Our Patients
Cardiac Patient Travels More Than 900 Miles for Aortic Aneurysm Repair
When 71-year-old Utah native Tom Stover had an aortic aneurysm, he had emergency surgery in Washington state, where he lives. After recovering from surgery, Stover received a clean bill of health. However, he knew something still wasn't right. His doctors soon discovered that he had another aneurysm in his aortic wall.
Aortic Dissection Repair Gives Utah Woman Second Chance at Life
When Allie Cochran began experiencing severe chest and abdominal pain, her husband took her to a nearby hospital in Orem. Doctors discovered Cochran had suffered an acute aortic dissection, likely related to a thoracic aortic aneurysm. Cochran was quickly transferred to University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City for emergency surgery.