The aortic valve controls blood flow from the left ventricle of the heart to the aorta, a major blood vessel that delivers blood to the rest of the body. There are two main types of aortic valve disease: aortic stenosis and aortic regurgitation.
In severe aortic stenosis (AS), the opening of the aortic valve becomes narrowed, which restricts the flow of blood though the valve and forces the heart to work harder. As aortic stenosis worsens, the heart becomes increasingly weaker. This increases the risk of heart failure, a very serious disease which occurs when your heart cannot pump enough blood to the body. If severe aortic stenosis is not diagnosed and treated, about half of the people who have it will die within an average of two years
In aortic regurgitation, also known as aortic insufficiency, the aortic valve does not close as tightly as it should. This leads to the backward flow of blood from the aorta into the left ventricle, causing the heart to work harder than it should. If aortic regurgitation is severe, surgery may be required to replace the valve.
Severe cases of aortic valve disease may require surgery. Scripps physicians perform several types of procedures to treat aortic stenosis and aortic regurgitation.
Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is a minimally invasive procedure to implant a prosthetic valve inside your diseased valve. TAVR allows the physician to insert a new valve into the heart while it is still beating, so the patient usually does not have to be on a heart-lung bypass machine. The new valve is inserted via a thin, flexible tube called a catheter, so it is less invasive than valve replacement surgery.
Scripps interventional cardiologists are San Diego’s leaders in transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) surgery. Scripps heart doctors were among the first nationally to test TAVR in clinical trials before the procedure received FDA approval in 2011. More than one thousand Scripps patients have benefitted from TAVR as a treatment for heart valve disease.