Did you know aortic stenosis is one of the most common heart valve disease problems? Here’s the 411 on what it is and treatment options.
What is aortic stenosis?
Aortic stenosis is the narrowing of the main gate out of the heart (known as the aortic valve) through which all the blood that supplies oxygen to your organs passes through. If the narrowing of the valve becomes too severe, then the heart has trouble pumping blood to all the organs.
Think of it this way – the valve is a door and as it becomes increasingly blocked, it becomes more difficult for blood to pass through. If left untreated, aortic stenosis can lead to heart failure or angina.
What causes aortic stenosis?
Although some children are born with aortic stenosis, individuals aged 65 and above are most at risk for developing this condition since the valve deteriorates as the body ages.
Over time, the valve begins to accumulate calcium, which leads to a stiffening of the valve and poor function. In addition to age, common risk factors include rheumatic fever, family history, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and chronic kidney disease.
Initially, symptoms present in conjunction with activities that cause exertion. Why? Well, the more energy your body uses, the faster your heart pumps blood to your tissues to keep up.
Common symptoms of aortic stenosis include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain (pressure or tightness)
- Reduced activity level (normal activities begin to require more energy)
- Passing out or fainting
How healthy is your heart? Take the first step towards a healthy heart by taking our free heart health risk assessment here.
How is aortic stenosis treated?
One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to treating aortic stenosis. Your care team will look at all the moving pieces and customize a care plan tailored to you. Typical care plans include a combination of medication and a valve replacement.
Thanks to advancements over the last decade, there’s an alternative to open heart surgery. Today, cardiologists can replace the narrow valve with a new one via a trans catheter technique – a minimally invasive option in which a small incision is made through the patient’s leg.
So, what’s the bottom line? If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of aortic stenosis, get checked out by a cardiologist.