Passive in nature, heart valves react to the inertial forces exerted by blood flow. Pressure differences operate on the valve leaflets to initiate rapid opening and closure of the valve. In the closed position, the coapted leaflets are exposed to significant transvalvular pressure. In contrast, relatively small pressure gradients are required to initiate an opening or closure event. To facilitate efficient cycling, valve leaflets must demonstrate a high degree of compliance relative to the applied inertial loads while in transition. Functionally the leaflet is required to exhibit diverse properties under varied states and modes of deformation.

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