What is the aortic valve?

The aortic valve is one of the four valves in the heart. The aortic valve is the final “door” that opens to allow oxygen-rich blood to flow out of the heart and back into the body. When the aortic valve doesn't open properly, the heart has to work harder to pump blood. Cardiac experts at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus are highly experienced in treating people with aortic valve disease.

There are four common types of aortic valve disease:

  • Aortic valve stenosis – a condition in which the aortic valve does not close properly, creating a backflow of blood from the aorta into the left chamber of the heart
  • Aortic valve regurgitation or insufficiency – a narrowing of the valve between the heart and aorta that prevents it from opening or closing properly
  • Atrial septal defect – a hole between the heart’s two upper chambers
  • Congenital heart defect – a congenital heart defect is a condition that occurs when the heart – or blood vessels near the heart – do not develop normally before birth

Aortic valve disease causes

Aortic valve disease can be caused by a congenital (present at birth) heart defect. This condition can also be caused by:

  • Changes to the heart over time (aging)
  • High blood pressure
  • Infection
  • Injury to the heart

Aortic valve disease symptoms

Some symptoms of aortic valve disease include:

  • Fainting, fatigue, inability to exercise or lightheadedness
  • Murmur or enlarged heart
  • Chest pressure or shortness of breath

Treatment of aortic valve disease

Valve replacement

We offer new minimally invasive treatment options to replace aortic valves and mitral valves. These procedures offer the advantages of being less invasive than traditional surgery, which leads to less trauma for the patient and faster recovery. Advanced age should not be a factor in determining not to have aortic valve replacement for aortic stenosis.

Patients in their 80s and even 90s often benefit dramatically from aortic valve replacement for severe aortic stenosis.

As a leading regional academic medical center, Ohio State offers several options to treat valve and structural heart disease. Ohio State Wexner Medical Center is one of only a handful of centers in Ohio able to replace the aortic valve through a catheter approach called transcatheter aortic valve replacement, or TAVR. TAVR is a closed-chest, catheter-based valve replacement procedure that's an alternative to traditional open-heart surgery. If you've been diagnosed with severe aortic stenosis, you may be a candidate for this procedure.

Valve surgery

Our heart and vascular surgery team strives to use less invasive procedures whenever possible, but some conditions can only be treated with open-heart surgery. Open-heart surgery is a safe and effective treatment for heart valve disorders. If you have certain problems involving the heart muscle, arteries, valves and other structures, your cardiac specialist may recommend open-heart surgery.

Valve repair

In some cases, we can repair the diseased heart valve. The surgery may be open-heart or minimally invasive surgery depending on your age, health condition and other factors. Our surgeons can perform surgical aortic valve repair or replacement as a minimally invasive procedure through a small chest incision or through a traditional open-heart procedure. Most patients with no other heart problems can have minimally invasive aortic valve surgery.

Our team can perform surgical mitral valve repair or mitral valve repair (regurgitant/insufficient) as a minimally invasive procedure through a small chest incision or through a traditional chest incision. Most patients with no other heart problems can have minimally invasive mitral valve surgery (rather than undergoing the more invasive, open procedure).

The majority of patients with leaky mitral valve (regurgitant/insufficient) disease improve after undergoing mitral valve repair. Our surgeons are experts in mitral valve repair techniques. Patients with narrowed mitral valve (stenosis) may improve after undergoing mitral balloon valvuloplasty or surgical mitral valve replacement.

Advancing care for heart valve diseases at Ohio State

Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement

Minimally invasive treatment for severe aortic stenosis

How the TAVR Procedure Works

This video shows how the Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) procedure is performed.

Why choose Ohio State for heart valve disease treatment?

As a leading regional academic medical center, Ohio State Wexner Medical Center offers a wide spectrum of options to treat heart valve and structural heart disease. Ohio State has been a leader involved in the development and research around many of today’s approved treatment options. Our patients also have access to current research studies and clinical trials testing new treatments.

We have assembled a team of experts including interventional cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, dedicated nursing staff and other specialists, to ensure you receive the most comprehensive care available.

Our team can evaluate your condition and provide treatment options for you—whether this is your initial consultation or you're looking for a second opinion. Our advanced treatment options are giving new hope to patients who previously were't considered candidates for treatment due to advanced age or condition. Our patients are cared for in the world-class Ohio State Richard M. Ross Heart Hospital.

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