Aortic stenosis is a common cardiac condition that affects approximately 5 percent of people over the age of 75. Moreover, an estimated 80,000 aortic valve operations are performed each year in the United States. With the aging "baby boomers," the absolute number of patients with aortic stenosis is expected to dramatically increase over the next 15 years.
What is aortic stenosis?
The aortic valve is a one-way valve that separates the left ventricle (heart chamber that pumps oxygen-rich blood to the body) from the aorta (the main blood vessel of the body). When the left ventricle squeezes, the aortic valve opens and allows blood to flow from the heart to the body. Aortic stenosis is a narrowed aortic valve that prevents efficient and unimpeded flow of blood from the heart to the rest of the body.
Problems that can cause aortic valve stenosis include:
- age related: calcium buildup on the aortic valve
- bicuspid aortic valves, a heart defect you were born with (congenital)
- rheumatic fever
Aortic stenosis symptoms
When aortic stenosis becomes severe and symptoms develop, it is life-threatening. Common symptoms may include:
- breathlessness with activity
- chest discomfort
- fainting, weakness or dizziness with activity
Diagnosis of aortic stenosis
Most people are diagnosed with aortic stenosis when their doctor hears a heart murmur or abnormal sound through a stethoscope. One or more of the following tests are typically ordered to properly diagnose aortic stenosis:
- transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE)
- transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE)
- stress test
- cardiac catheterization
Treatment of aortic stenosis
Beaumont's heart valve program offers the most advanced, innovative approaches for treating all types of heart valve disease, including aortic stenosis. Through the advancements of Beaumont's Heart Valve Clinic, patients who previously had no treatment options now have options for even the most complex issues.
Treatment for aortic stenosis depends on the severity of the disease and may include:
- medical therapy and medical surveillance for mild to moderate aortic stenosis
- balloon valvuloplasty
- transcatheter aortic valve replacement
- minimally invasive aortic valve replacement
- open heart surgery
As one of the highest volume centers in the state, you can be assured that the physicians in Beaumont's heart valve program are the leading experts in treating even the most complex cases.