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Reasons for Procedure
The aortic valve is located between the pumping chamber (ventricle) on the left side of the heart and the aorta (a major artery). The aorta carries oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the rest of the body. The valve should be closed while the heart is filling with blood. When the heart chamber squeezes to push blood into the aorta, the valve should open fully to allow blood flow.
Aortic valve replacement is done when the aortic valve is not working properly. The amount of oxygen-rich blood getting out to the body can be significantly decreased with a faulty valve.
Sometimes, the aortic valve is misshaped due to a birth defect. This is called congenital aortic valve disease. Other times, the aortic valve works well for years before becoming too stiff or too floppy to open and close fully. This is called acquired aortic valve disease. Sometimes this happens due to normal aging. With age, calcium build-up on the valve causes it to malfunction. The valve problem may also occur as a result of other conditions, such as:
- Rheumatic valve disease ( rheumatic fever )—a complication of streptococcal throat infection, which can damage the valve
- Endocarditis —an infection inside the heart that involves the valves
- Aortic aneurysms —an abnormal widening or outpouching of the aorta
- Aortic dissection—bleeding into the wall of the aorta, usually due to the presence of an aortic aneurysm
- Aortic valve stenosis —valve is too stiff to open fully; heart may have a hard time pumping blood into the aorta
- Aortic valve regurgitation —valve does not close fully; allows blood flow from the aorta to leak through the valve back into the heart