The incidence of aortic valve disease in inherited connective tissue disorders is well documented; however, recent studies have only begun to unravel the pathology behind this association. In this review, we aim to describe the etiology, clinical manifestations, management, and prognosis of aortic and aortic valvular disorders that co-exist in a variety of connective tissue diseases. An extensive literature review was performed in PubMed. Articles from 2008 to 2018 were included for review. Predetermined search terms used in PubMed include “aortic manifestation of connective tissue diseases” and “aortic valve disorders in rheumatologic disease.”
Manifestations of aortic valve disease in the context of connective tissue disorders include valvular stenosis, regurgitation, and/or thoracic aortic aneurysms. Both inherited and inflammatory connective tissue disorders contribute to aortic valve damage with increased susceptibility associated with specific gene variants. Anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive therapies have demonstrated beneficial results in Marfan’s syndrome, Behcet disease, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and systemic sclerosis, often leading to remission. Yet, such therapy is less effective in other disorders compared to alternative treatments such as surgical intervention. Additionally, regular echocardiographic studies should be recommended to those suffering from these disorders, especially those at higher risk for cardiovascular involvement. Given the rates of relapse with immunosuppressants, even following aortic valve replacement, further studies are needed to determine if certain dosing and/or combinations of immunosuppressants could be given to those diagnosed with connective tissue diseases to prevent progression of aortic valve involvement.