Aortic stenosis is a heart disease of the aortic valve. The aortic valve acts as a one-way gate, allowing blood to flow from the heart into the rest of the body. If the aortic valve narrows, the heart needs to work much harder to pump blood throughout the body.
The occurrence of aortic stenosis greatly increases in elderly people. The aortic valve normally has three leaflets called cusps and, as people get older, calcium can gradually build up on the cusps, resulting in stenosis or narrowing of the valve.
People with aortic stenosis may not experience signs right away. Often times, the disease is detected during a regular physical exam. Signs and symptoms typically appear when the aortic stenosis becomes severe. These can include:
- chest pain
- heart palpitations
- heart murmur
- shortness of breath
Treatment Options for Aortic StenosisAortic stenosis cannot be reversed with medications, but some drugs can help control associated conditions like irregular heart rhythms. Surgical options include:
- Balloon valvuloplasty – A balloon opens the aortic valve to improve blood flow. However, narrowing often occurs again after this procedure.
- Aortic valve replacement – Requires removing the narrowed valve and replacing it with either a mechanical valve or tissue valve.
- Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) – Unlike traditional methods, TAVR does not require open-heart surgery. Instead, the procedure uses a catheter to replace the aortic valve.