Unraveling the Mechanisms of Valvular Heart Disease to Identify Medical Therapy Targets: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association

Circulation. 2024 Jun 17. doi: 10.1161/CIR.0000000000001254. Online ahead of print.


Valvular heart disease is a common cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide and has no effective medical therapy. Severe disease is managed with valve replacement procedures, which entail high health care-related costs and postprocedural morbidity and mortality. Robust ongoing research programs have elucidated many important molecular pathways contributing to primary valvular heart disease. However, there remain several key challenges inherent in translating research on valvular heart disease to viable molecular targets that can progress through the clinical trials pathway and effectively prevent or modify the course of these common conditions. In this scientific statement, we review the basic cellular structures of the human heart valves and discuss how these structures change in primary valvular heart disease. We focus on the most common primary valvular heart diseases, including calcific aortic stenosis, bicuspid aortic valves, mitral valve prolapse, and rheumatic heart disease, and outline the fundamental molecular discoveries contributing to each. We further outline potential therapeutic molecular targets for primary valvular heart disease and discuss key knowledge gaps that might serve as future research priorities.

Keywords: AHA Scientific Statements; aortic valve stenosis; bicuspid aortic valve disease; cellular structures; heart valve diseases; mitral valve prolapse; rheumatic heart disease.

Publication types

  • Review