Expert Magnus Bäck The heart valve disease aortic stenosis is probably triggered by calcium deposits and narrowing of the aortic valve. Mostly affecting the elderly population, this ailment may also be caused by a congenital defect. A latest study undertaken by the Karolinska Institutet suggests that a specific inflammatory factor leads to the development of aortic stenosis. This heart valve disease can be apparently treated by an anti-inflammatory medication.

During the study, scientists examined heart valves from patients subjected to surgery for various valve diseases. It then appeared that that immune cells and a group of inflammatory substances known as leukotrienes are present in calcified heart valves. Most significant inflammation was registered among patients with the narrowest valves on ultrasound examination. It was also pointed out that leukotrienes possibly stimulate the calcification of heart valve cells in cell cultures.

“The results suggest that anti-inflammatory medication could be a future treatment for aortic stenosis, and it would mean a lot to these patients, most of whom are elderly, if we could slow the disease to the extent that they do not need surgery”, commented associate professor and cardiologist Magnus Bäck, one of the researchers behind the study.

All through the investigation, authors displayed specific pathways of inflammation that are crucial factors in the development of aortic stenosis. Some similarities between atherosclerosis and aortic stenosis were also registered. But lipid-lowering medicines, commonly referred to as statins probably able to restrict atherosclerosis are ineffective in preventing calcification of the aortic valve.

The study is published in the scientific journal Circulation.