Causes and Diagnoses

Causes and Diagnoses of Aortic Disease

Illustration of a heart

Aortic Valve Stenosis

Common causes:
  • Rheumatic fever (inflammatory disease that may develop after an infection like strep throat or scarlet fever)
  • Hypercholesterolemia (excess cholesterol in the blood)
  • Congenital bicuspid aortic valve (aortic valve has only two cusps instead of three)
Risk factors:
  • Hypercholesterolemia
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)

Aortic valve stenosis is typically diagnosed by echocardiogram (ECHO), a non-invasive test that uses high-frequency sound waves to create a moving picture of the heart chambers, valves and major blood vessels.

Aortic Valve Insufficiency/Regurgitation

Illustration of aortic valve

Common causes:
  • Rheumatic fever
  • Congenital bicuspid aortic valve
  • Infective endocarditis (infection that affects the lining of the heart’s chambers and the heart valves)
  • Collagen vascular diseases
  • Degenerative valve disease

Rheumatic fever is the most common risk factor. Like aortic valve stenosis, echocardiogram (ECHO) is the most common and effective way of diagnosing aortic valve insufficiency.

Guidelines for the management of patients with valvular heart disease from the American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology (AHA/ACC) suggest routine repeat echocardiography to periodically assess the status of heart valves, even when you’re not experiencing symptoms. Changes over time may indicate that it’s time to reevaluate your medical management protocol or consider surgery.

Treatments

Aortic aneurysms are often detected during a routine physical examination or X-ray, but occasionally they can cause pain in the jaw, neck, chest or upper back, as well as coughing or difficulty breathing. If an aortic aneurysm is suspected, your physician can confirm it with tests such as:

Six niche centers within Northwestern Medicine Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute offer patient focused, specialized care, making Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute a leading destination for both initial diagnoses and second opinions. These niche programs include physicians, nurses and a range of multidisciplinary specialists working with patients to navigate the complex health care system, ensuring continuity of care and a seamless shift from inpatient to outpatient services and ultimately home.

Contact Us
To schedule an appointment or inquire about services at Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, please call 312.NM.HEART (664.3278).

Cardiovascular Clinical Trials
For information regarding cardiovascular clinical trials:

Referring Physicians
Open communication and cooperation with referring physicians is a critical component of achieving high-quality care and minimizing the challenges that come with treating cardiovascular conditions. For physician-to-physician consultation regarding the best patient care, please contact Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at 312.NM.HEART (664.3278).


Six niche centers within Northwestern Medicine Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute offer patient focused, specialized care, making Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute a leading destination for both initial diagnoses and second opinions. These niche programs include physicians, nurses and a range of multidisciplinary specialists working with patients to navigate the complex health care system, ensuring continuity of care and a seamless shift from inpatient to outpatient services and ultimately home.

Contact Us
To schedule an appointment or inquire about services at Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital, please call 847.53.HEART (534.3278).

Cardiovascular Clinical Trials
For information regarding cardiovascular clinical trials:


Six niche centers within Northwestern Medicine Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute offer patient focused, specialized care, making Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute a leading destination for both initial diagnoses and second opinions. These niche programs include physicians, nurses and a range of multidisciplinary specialists working with patients to navigate the complex health care system, ensuring continuity of care and a seamless shift from inpatient to outpatient services and ultimately home.

Contact Us
To schedule an appointment or inquire about services at Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital or Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital, please call 630.232.0280

Cardiovascular Clinical Trials
For information regarding cardiovascular clinical trials: