The aortic valve controls blood flow from the heart to the rest of the body. In aortic stenosis, the valve narrows, restricting blood flow from the heart. In aortic regurgitation, the valve opening does not close completely, causing blood to leak backward into the heart. As a result of either of these conditions, the heart muscle may have to pump harder and blood flow to the body may decrease, which can ultimately lead to heart failure.
Aortic stenosis and regurgitation may occur with age, often in those older than 70. However, in patients with other heart conditions, such as bicuspid aortic valves (a valve with two “flaps” instead of three) and rheumatic valvular disease, aortic stenosis or regurgitation can occur much earlier.
Common symptoms of aortic stenosis and regurgitation may include fainting or feeling lightheaded, weakness or chest pain (often increasing with activity), palpitations (rapid, noticeable heartbeats), shortness of breath, and/or swelling of your lower legs.