A diagnosis of aortic valve disease means the aortic valve doesn’t work properly. The aortic valve controls blood flow from the heart to the rest of the body. 

There are two types of aortic valve disease — aortic regurgitation and aortic stenosis.

Aortic Regurgitation

Aortic valve regurgitation, or aortic insufficiency, occurs when the aortic valve does not close tightly. This allows some of the blood that was pumped out of the heart to leak backward.

This leakage may prevent the heart from efficiently pumping blood to the rest of the body, and it can cause fatigue and/or shortness of breath. This can affect overall health and may hinder participating in normal daily activities.

Aortic regurgitation may be related to the following conditions:

  • Endocarditis
  • Collagen disorders
  • Marfan syndrome
  • Systemic lupus — autoimmune disease
  • Hypertension
  • Aortic dissection

In the case of aortic regurgitation, symptoms may not surface for years or may have or develop the following symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swollen ankles and feet
  • Rapid or irregular pulse

Aortic Stenosis

When an aortic valve becomes stenotic, it does not open properly, thus affecting the amount of oxygen-rich blood that leaves the heart with each beat. In the case of aortic stenosis, an increased burden is placed on the heart, which may weaken the heart muscle and affect health.