The Who's and What's of Aortic Stenosis

What Is Aortic Stenosis?

Aortic stenosis is a serious heart condition in which the aortic valve doesn't fully open.

The aorta is the big blood vessel that carries blood away from the heart to the rest of the body.

When the aortic valve gets stuck and doesn't open properly, the heart has to work harder than usual to pump blood to the rest of the body.

This can lead to heart failure, and eventually death, if aortic stenosis is not treated.

The condition usually occurs in adults, but some babies are born with the condition.


Aortic stenosis is diagnosed most commonly in older adults. Roughly 2 percent of adults over age 65 have the disease.

The condition is slightly more common in men than in women.

Causes and Risk Factors

Aortic stenosis is caused by a narrowing of the aortic valve opening.

In older adults, this narrowing can occur due to thickening of the valve wall.

As we age, calcium can build up in the valve fold, causing damage to the valve and restricting blood flow.

Risk factors for aortic stenosis include:

Age:Aortic stenosis typically begins after age 60.

Birth defect:Congenital aortic valve deformities can cause aortic stenosis in younger people.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Symptoms of aortic stenosis include:

  • Breathlessness
  • Chest pain, pressure, or tightness
  • Fainting or dizziness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Becoming tired quickly during normal activities
  • Breathing problems

These symptoms usually happen during physical activity.

Not everyone with aortic stenosis has noticeable symptoms. But if you do experience any of these symptoms, visit your doctor.

Your doctor will use an imaging test called an echocardiogram (or "echo") to test for aortic stenosis.

An echocardiogram uses sound waves to make a picture of your heart. This picture shows your doctor how well your heart valves are working.

Other tests for aortic stenosis may include:

Aortic Stenosis Treatment

Treatment for aortic stenosis depends on your symptoms and the severity of the disease.

If the disease is mild and you have few symptoms, you may not need any treatment.

Your doctor may periodically repeat imaging tests, such as an echocardiogram, to see if your aortic stenosis is getting worse.

If your aortic stenosis is deemed to be severe enough, treatment options may include:

Replacing the aortic valve:This is typically done surgically, although a non-surgical procedure may be performed in people who cannot have surgery.

Medications:Your doctor may prescribe drugs to treat conditions that could worsen or raise your risk of complications from aortic stenosis, such as high blood pressure.

However, no medication has ever been shown to be an adequate substitute for aortic valve replacement.

Aortic Valve Replacement

Aortic valve replacement is the only effective treatment for severe aortic stenosis.

There are two options for aortic valve replacement:

Surgical aortic valve replacement:In this procedure, your doctor will make a large cut down the middle of your chest and separate your chest bone (called a sternotomy) to gain access to the aorta.

The damaged aortic valve will be removed, and your doctor will sew a new valve in place.

New valves can be made of man-made materials such as titanium, or they may be taken from human or animal tissue.

Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR):If you have other health conditions that could make surgical aortic valve replacement too risky, your doctor may recommend TAVR.

In this procedure, your doctor will make a small hole in an artery in your groin and insert a small tube to wedge a replacement valve into place over the old aortic valve.

There are no cuts in the chest area, and this procedure can usually be done without the need for a general anesthetic.

Video: What are the symptoms of aortic valve stenosis?

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Date: 08.12.2018, 22:55 / Views: 35144