- By Dana Sparks
Aortic calcification: An early sign of heart valve problems?
Aortic valve calcification is a condition in which calcium deposits form on the aortic valve in the heart. These deposits can cause narrowing at the opening of the aortic valve. This narrowing can become severe enough to reduce blood flow through the aortic valve — a condition called aortic valve stenosis.
Aortic valve calcification may be an early sign that you have heart disease, even if you don't have any other heart disease symptoms.
- Abnormal sound (heart murmur) when a doctor is listening to the heart beating with a stethoscope.
- Shortness of breath, particularly when you have been very active or when you lie down.
- Swelling of your ankles and feet.
- Irregular heartbeat.
Calcification and stenosis generally affects people older than age 65. When it occurs in younger people, it's often caused by:
- A heart defect that's present at birth
- Other illnesses, such as kidney failure
Aortic valve sclerosis — thickening and stiffness of the valve and mild aortic calcification — usually doesn't cause significant heart problems, but requires regular checkups to make sure your condition isn't worsening. If the valve becomes severely narrowed (stenotic), aortic valve replacement surgery may be necessary.