The aortic valve is located between the aorta and the heart's left ventricle. The pulmonary vein delivers oxygenated blood to the heart's left atrium. Then it passes through the mitral valve and into the left ventricle. With each of the heart's contract actions, oxygenated blood exits the left ventricle through the aortic valve. In most cases, three flaps comprise the valve. Due to a congenital condition, some hearts are not tricuspid and may feature only two flaps. As a part of the cardiac system, the valve is susceptible to two major conditions: If the valve fails to open all the way, the result is aortic stenosis. This disease affects the blood's ability to effectively move into the aorta, and a form of blockage occurs. Rheumatic fever can cause this, as well as degenerative calcification. Congenital conditions have also been known to cause aortic stenosis. Also, if oxygenated blood flows in the wrong direction, a phenomenon called aortic regurgitation occurs. This is caused by the aortic valve not functioning correctly. Essentially, blood is pumped into the aorta, but the valve does not keep it from reentering the left ventricle.
Written and medically reviewed by the Healthline Editorial Team
In Depth: Aortic valve