What causes an Aortic Valve to malfunction?
The aortic valve to malfunction for several reasons. For example, the aortic valve may be abnormal from birth (congenital aortic valve disease), or it could become diseased with age (acquired aortic valve disease).
The most common congenital abnormality is a bicuspid aortic valve . As shown below, the aortic valve normally has three leaflets, but a bicuspid aortic valve has only two. It may, therefore, not open or close completely.
A bicuspid aortic valve is a common abnormality and occurs in 1-2% of people. This is the second most common cause of aortic valve disease requiring surgery. Such valves may function normally for years before becoming stenotic, regurgitant, or both. People with a bicuspid aortic valve require antibiotic prophylaxis before dental procedures but generally no other special precautions are required other than regular follow up with a qualified cardiologist.
The most common cause of aortic valve disease requiring surgery is called “senile aortic calcification,” meaning that the valve has worn out with age. When a valve becomes worn, the body deposits calcium on it for reasons that are unknown.
The calcium restricts or limits the motion of the valve leaflets. This may prevent the valve from opening (causing stenosis) or closing (causing leakage or regurgitation). Less common causes of aortic valve disease include diseases of the aorta, the main blood vessel coming out of the heart and carrying blood to the rest of the body, including ascending aortic aneurysms, aortic dissection, and Marfan’s syndrome.