Aortic valve disease

The aortic valve is the valve between the main pumping chamber of the heart (left ventricle) and the main artery of the body (aorta). When this valve doesn’t work properly, it is called aortic valve disease. The valve can either be narrowed (stenosis) or leaking (regurgitation).

A narrowed aortic valve or a leaking aortic valve during the first stage of the disease can be asymptomatic, which mean it may not be appreciated. Only when it becomes severe, it causes symptoms like shortness of breath, tiredness, chest pain, sometimes syncope (blackout). The aortic valve disease can be caused by several conditions, like calcific degeneration (calcium deposits on the valve), bicuspid aortic valve (a conditions from birth, when the valve has two leaflets instead of three), endocarditis (infection of the valve) and others.

Unfortunately, without treatment the aortic valve disease tends to progress rapidly and can cause heart failure and other serious conditions. That’s why is very important to intervene early. The best treatment for severe aortic valve stenosis or severe aortic regurgitation is a surgical operation of aortic valve replacement. It is normally performed opening the breast bone, but it can also be done with a small cut (keyhole – mini sternotomy or mini thoracotomy). The diseased aortic valve is excised and a new valve is implanted. Mr Alberto Albanese routinely performs aortic valve replacement operations with excellent results. During his training he has worked is some well renowned aortic units. He has also attended several international conferences and training courses.

Valve choices

There are two option for a new valve prosthesis: mechanical and biological (tissue) valves. The mechanical valves don’t normally degenerate and usually last lifelong, but require anticoagulation (warfarin), a blood thinner. The tissue valves are made from animal tissues, pigs or cows, are similar to human valves; for this reason they don’t require warfarin, but unfortunately can wear away. Studies demonstrates that they can last 15-20 years and then need to be replaced.

Aortic valve disease replacement dr Alberto Albanese Consultant Cardiac Surgeon International Heart Clinic