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Aortic stenosis is a narrowing of the aortic valve opening. It is one of the most common and serious valve disease problems. Aortic stenosis restricts the blood flow from the heart's left ventricle to the aorta. It may also affect the pressure in the heart's left atrium.
Some people have aortic stenosis because of a congenital heart defect called a bicuspid aortic valve. It usually gets worse during aging as calcium or scarring damages the valve and reduces the blood flow.
Aortic stenosis may cause muscular thickening in the left ventricle wall because the ventricle is working harder to pump blood through the narrow valve opening into the aorta. The thickened wall takes up more space. That allows less room for an adequate amount of blood flow. This can lead to heart failure.
Many people with aortic stenosis don't experience symptoms until the amount of blood flow becomes greatly restricted.
Symptoms of aortic stenosis may include:
Infants and children who have aortic stenosis due to a congenital defect may exhibit symptoms such as:
If you notice a decline in your physical activity or feel fatigued, ask your doctor to check for reduced heart function. Appropriate treatment can help reverse or slow down the progression of aortic stenosis.
To diagnose aortic stenosis, your doctor may review your signs and symptoms, discuss your medical history, and conduct a physical exam. Your doctor may listen to your heart with a stethoscope to determine if you have a heart murmur.
Your doctor may order any of these tests:
Even if there are no symptoms or mild symptoms, it is best to have regular follow-ups with your doctor.
Anyone with aortic stenosis should be checked with an echocardiogram to determine treatment options. According to American Family Physician, serial Doppler echocardiography is recommended annually for severe aortic stenosis, every one to two years for moderate disease, and every three to five years for mild disease.
Possible treatments may include:
Discuss the best options with your doctor to ensure you receive the most effective treatment possible.
Some possible ways to prevent aortic stenosis include:
Once you know that you have aortic stenosis, your doctor may recommend limiting strenuous activity to avoid overworking your heart.
Presbyterian’s Heart and Vascular team has many different options to help you manage your heart condition. The team performs various diagnostic tests and procedures to help form an accurate diagnosis and create individualized treatment plans for your heart health needs. Depending on the type of heart condition you have and its underlying cause, the team can recommend a wide variety of treatment options; these may include lifestyle modifications, medications and procedures. Our cardiologists and cardiovascular surgeons work closely together for cases in which surgery is the best treatment option. We also offer a customized cardiac rehabilitation program at our Healthplex, where clinically appropriate, which can improve your endurance and exercise tolerance, as well as improve heart-related symptoms. Your cardiologist will work with the rehabilitation team to create a plan that will be tailored to your individual health needs.