Salt Lake City (ABC4 UTAH) — Aortic valve disease is a type of heart valve disease. In aortic valve disease, the valve between the lower left heart chamber (left ventricle) and the main artery to the body (aorta) don’t work properly.

The aortic valve helps keep blood flowing in the correct direction through the heart. A damaged or diseased aortic valve can affect blood flow to the rest of the heart and body. Some people with aortic valve disease may not notice symptoms for many years.

Signs and symptoms of aortic valve disease may include:

  • Whooshing or swishing heart sound (heart murmur)
  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Fatigue after activity or having less ability to be active
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath, particularly during vigorous activity or when lying down
  • Not eating enough (mainly in children with aortic valve stenosis)
  • Not gaining enough weight (mainly in children with aortic valve stenosis)

The Intermountain Healthcare Center for Aortic Disease is one of the leading treatment centers in the nation.

“Our mission at the Intermountain Healthcare Center for Aortic Disease is to help all individuals with aortic disease live their healthiest life possible,” said John Doty, MD, Intermountain Healthcare cardiac surgeon. “In order to do this, we focus on preventing the catastrophic outcomes of aortic dissection and rupture through early identification of aortic pathology and preserving life and health through prompt treatment.”

The Intermountain Healthcare Center for Aortic Disease is comprised of a multidisciplinary, comprehensive team of cardiac surgeons, vascular surgeons, intensive care physicians, cardiologists, radiologists, anesthesiologists, and geneticists.

This team brings a collective expertise so that any patient who is seen within the Intermountain Healthcare system has access to this team of experts.

“Some patients will have an underlying condition that results in aortic disease, including high blood pressure, genetic conditions, familial aortopathies, and bicuspid aortic valve,” said Dr. Doty.

Treatment of aortic disease can consist of control of hypertension, lifestyle modification, serial imaging, and surgical operations. Advances in endovascular technologies are allowing us to treat more patients with novel procedures that have fewer complications, he added.

Enlargement of any portion of the aorta is known as an aortic aneurysm, which is generally a silent problem until discovered during some type of imaging, such as a CT scan or ultrasound. 

If left untreated, aortic aneurysm can progress to acute aortic syndrome, which is an emergency problem that can result in death and/or major life-altering complications. Acute aortic syndromes include aortic dissection, aortic rupture, and other conditions that weaken the aortic wall.

Aneurysms that involve the aortic root and ascending aorta are treatable, and surgery is quite safe if performed before there is dissection or rupture, said Dr. Doty.

These operations can include reconstruction of the ascending aorta, aortic root replacement, and valve-sparing aortic root replacement.

*Sponsored Content.