Friday, February 13, 2009

Aortic Valve

The aortic valve is one of the four valves of the heart. It lies between the left ventricle and the aorta. It works like a one-way gate. When the heart pumps during ventricular systole, the aortic valve opens to let oxygen-rich blood flow from the left ventricle into a large blood vessel called the aorta. Blood then flows through the aorta to the rest of the body.

There are two processes that can affect the aortic valve - aortic stenosis in which the valve fails to open fully, thereby obstructing blood flow out from the heart, and aortic insufficiency, also called aortic regurgitation, in which the aortic valve is incompetent and blood flows passively back to the heart in the wrong direction.