Aortic Valve

Your aortic valve is one of your four heart valves. It connects the left side of your heart with your aorta. Your aorta is the large artery that carries oxygen-rich blood to your body. Your aortic valve controls blood flow into your aorta and keeps blood moving in one direction.


What is the aortic valve?

Your aortic valve is one of your four heart valves. It connects your:

  • Left ventricle, the heart chamber that pumps blood from your heart to the rest of your body.
  • Aorta, the artery that carries blood away from your heart.

Your aortic valve is one of two semilunar valves. Semilunar valves connect your heart ventricles (lower chambers) and arteries. Semilunar valves get their name from the crescent moon shape of the flaps that make up the valve.


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What are heart valves?

Your heart divides into four chambers:

  • Atria are the top chambers. Typically, hearts have a left atrium and a right atrium.
  • Ventricles are the bottom chambers. A typical heart has a left ventricle and a right ventricle.

Between each chamber, valves open and close to help blood flow in the right direction. Each valve has small flaps called leaflets that open and close each time your heart beats.


What does the aortic valve do?

Your aortic valve opens to let blood flow from your left ventricle to your aorta. It closes to prevent blood from flowing in the wrong direction. The closed valve keeps blood from leaking from your aorta back into your heart.

How does your aortic valve work with the rest of your heart?

Your aortic valve plays a crucial role in helping blood flow through your heart. Blood flows through your heart in a series of steps:

  1. The right side of your heart takes in blood from your body and pumps it to your lungs.
  2. Your lungs restore blood with oxygen and send it back to the left side of your heart.
  3. Your aortic valve opens so that blood can flow from the left side of your heart to your aorta.
  4. Your aorta pumps the oxygen-rich blood to the rest of your body.



Where is the aortic valve located?

The aortic valve is between your left ventricle and aorta. Looking at your heart straight on, your aortic valve is near the middle of your heart.

Your pulmonary valve is to the right and in front of your aortic valve. Your pulmonary artery passes through the arch of the aorta to carry blood to your right and left lungs.

What are the aortic valve parts?

Your aortic valve has three sections made of collagen. These sections are called leaflets, or cusps.

In a healthy heart, the leaflets open wide to allow blood to flow through. Then, they come tightly together to prevent backflow.

Some people are born with only two aortic valve leaflets. An aortic valve with only two leaflets is called a bicuspid aortic valve.


Conditions and Disorders

What conditions and disorders affect the aortic heart valve?

A few heart conditions can affect your aortic valve. Some people are born with a heart condition (congenital). Others develop a condition because of an infection or heart damage such as a heart attack.

Some conditions that affect your aortic valve include:

  • Aortic valve regurgitation: Blood leaks back into your left ventricle instead of only flowing into your aorta.
  • Aortic valve stenosis: Your aortic valve narrows, reducing blood flow through it.
  • Bicuspid aortic valve: A bicuspid aortic valve only has two leaflets, increasing the risk of circulatory problems and heart conditions.
  • Endocarditis: Inflammation develops in your heart valves’ and chambers’ inner lining (endocardium).

What is a transcatheter aortic valve replacement?

A transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is a less invasive option to replace your aortic valve without open surgery. TAVR may be a treatment option if you have aortic valve stenosis. TAVR is also known as transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI).

During a TAVR procedure, your healthcare provider:

  1. Inserts a catheter (flexible, hollow tube) through a vein in your leg or chest.
  2. Guides the catheter to your heart.
  3. Places a replacement valve through the catheter.
  4. Uses a balloon to expand the valve or allows the valve to inflate on its own.
  5. Removes the catheter.


How can I keep my aortic valve healthy?

You can keep your heart valves and entire heart healthier by making some lifestyle changes. You can:

  • Achieve and maintain a healthy weight for your body type, sex and age.
  • Eat a heart-healthy diet low in sodium and high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  • Exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, five to seven days a week.
  • Manage stress with healthy coping techniques such as meditating or spending time with friends and family.
  • Quit smoking.

Additional Common Questions

What should I ask my doctor about my aortic valve?

You may want to ask your healthcare provider:

  • How do I know if my heart valves are functioning properly?
  • What’s the most likely cause of aortic valve problems?
  • What are my treatment options?
  • Do I need aortic valve surgery?
  • What lifestyle changes should I make to improve my heart health?

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Your aortic valve is one of your four main heart valves. It opens when blood flows from your left ventricle to your aorta. Your heart valves ensure blood flows through your heart in one direction. Some heart conditions can affect your aortic valve. If symptoms are severe, your healthcare provider may recommend surgery to repair or replace your aortic valve.

You can make lifestyle changes to improve your heart health. Talk with your doctor if you have any concerns or questions about your heart health.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed on 02/23/2022.

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