Spontaneous course of aortic valve disease

Eur Heart J. 1987 May;8(5):471-83. doi: 10.1093/oxfordjournals.eurheartj.a062307.


The fate of patients with aortic valve disease of varying degrees of severity and the relationship between symptoms and haemodynamic status have been studied in 190 adults undergoing cardiac catheterization during the last two decades. During the follow-up period, 41 patients died and 86 underwent aortic valve replacement; these two events were the endpoints for the calculation of 'event-free' cumulative survival. First-year survival in haemodynamically severe disease was 60% in aortic stenosis and 96% in aortic regurgitation; in moderate and mild disease (in the absence of coronary artery disease) first-year survival was 100% in both groups. After 10 years, 9% of those with haemodynamically severe aortic stenosis and 17% of those with severe regurgitation were event-free, in contrast to 35% and 22%, respectively, of those with moderate changes and 85% and 75%, respectively, of those with mild abnormalities. In the presence of haemodynamically severe disease, 66% of the patients with stenosis and 14% of those with regurgitation were severely symptomatic (history of heart failure, syncope or New York Heart Association class III and IV); 23% of patients with moderate stenosis and 14% with moderate regurgitation were also severely symptomatic. Only 40% of those with disease that was severe both haemodynamically and symptomatically with either stenosis or regurgitation survived the first two years; only 12% in the stenosis group and none in the regurgitation group were event-free at 5 years. Patients with haemodynamically severe aortic stenosis who had few or no symptoms had a 100% survival at 2 years; the comparable figure for the aortic regurgitation group was 94%; 75% of the patients in the stenosis group and 65% in the regurgitation group were event-free at 5 years. In the moderate or mild stenosis and regurgitation groups there was no mortality within the first 2 years in the absence of coronary artery disease, regardless of symptomatic status. Haemodynamically and symptomatically severe aortic stenosis and regurgitation have a very poor prognosis and require immediate valve surgery. Asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic patients with haemodynamically severe aortic stenosis are at low risk and surgical treatment can be postponed until marked symptoms appear without a significant risk of sudden death. In severe aortic regurgitation, the decision for surgery should depend not only on symptoms but should be considered in patients with few or no symptoms because of risk of sudden death. In the absence of coronary artery disease, moderate aortic valve disease does not require valve operation for prognostic reasons.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aortic Valve Insufficiency / diagnosis*
  • Aortic Valve Insufficiency / surgery
  • Aortic Valve Stenosis / diagnosis*
  • Aortic Valve Stenosis / surgery
  • Coronary Disease / mortality
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Heart Valve Prosthesis
  • Hemodynamics*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications / mortality