What is aortic valve stenosis?
Stenosis — or narrowing — of the aortic heart valve is a disease that does not allow normal blood flow through the aortic valve to the remainder of the body. If you have aortic valve stenosis, you may not have the energy for everyday activities. With proper treatment, you can enjoy life again with renewed stamina.
Aortic valve stenosis symptoms
If you have moderate to severe stenosis of the aortic heart valve, you might notice symptoms such as:
- Chest pain
- Fatigue/difficulties with exercise
- Shortness of breath
- Weight gain/edema
- Lightheadedness or fainting
It’s important to recognize that patients with aortic valve stenosis often do not experience any symptoms in early stages. Left untreated, though, symptoms will continue to worsen.
What causes aortic valve stenosis?
Aortic stenosis can be caused by:
- a birth defect
- a case of rheumatic fever
- radiation therapy treatments
- infections of the heart
However, aortic valve stenosis is most often related to the natural aging process. For older adults, severe aortic valve stenosis may be caused by a build-up of calcium mineral deposits on the leaflets of the heart’s aortic valve. The stiffened leaflets don’t open fully, causing your heart to work harder to push blood through your body. This condition eventually causes your heart to become weaker.
Aortic valve stenosis treatment
At the Valve Clinic at Parkview Heart Institute, our team will work together to determine the best treatment options for you.
The following tests may be performed if your physician believes you have aortic valve stenosis.
- Echocardiogram is a specialized ultrasound test to assess the size, shape and movement of the heart
- CTA, a type of CT scan, creates detailed images of blood vessels
- Heart cath uses a special dye and X-ray to produce images
If you are diagnosed with stenosis of the aortic valve, your cardiologist will have completed a physical exam and tests to reveal the seriousness of your condition. Treatment is often focused on relieving symptoms and repairing or replacing the ineffective valve during surgery. If your stenosis is mild, medication may be effective in treating your symptoms. Over time, however, as stenosis worsens, medication will become less effective.
The only effective treatment for moderate to severe stenosis is replacement of the aortic valve.
Valve replacement can be completed using several techniques:
- Open-heart surgery is the most common surgical approach, in which a cardiovascular surgeon removes the diseased valve and replaces it with an artificial one. These valves come in various sizes to fit your anatomy, and are made from a variety of materials.
- Minimally invasive surgery is a procedure that requires a smaller incision.
- Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is a less invasive procedure especially suited for individuals with moderate to severe stenosis who are considered at high risk for other treatments.
Meet Our Team
Our dedicated team at the Valve Clinic is here to offer you advanced cardiovascular care.
Appointments & Referrals
Find information about how to be referred to the Valve Clinic and what to expect as a new patient.