Mayo Clinic Health Library

Question

Aortic calcification: An early sign of heart valve problems?

Does aortic valve calcification increase the risk of heart disease?

Updated: 08-18-2011

Answer

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 progress to 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.

Calcification and stenosis typically affect 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
  • High cholesterol

Aortic valve sclerosis — thickening and stiffness of the valve — and mild aortic calcification usually don't cause significant heart problems, but require regular checkups to make sure your condition isn't worsening. It's important to have your cholesterol checked because you may need medications to lower cholesterol and help prevent aortic valve sclerosis from getting worse. If the valve becomes severely narrowed (stenotic), aortic valve replacement surgery may be necessary.

Site view: at a glance