Aortic Valve Stenosis
Your heart contains four valves – the tricuspid, pulmonary, mitral and aortic valves. They function like swinging doors, opening and closing to allow blood to flow throughout your heart and body. The aortic valve closes the left ventricle of the heart and opens to allow oxygenated blood to flow to the rest of the body.
Aortic valve stenosis occurs when the valve narrows, resulting in a reduction of blood flow, which forces your heart to work harder to pump blood throughout your body. Over time, this can weaken your heart and eventually lead to heart failure or other conditions.
Aortic valve stenosis may be brought on by a congenital condition, such as a bicuspid heart valve; rheumatic fever; or calcium build-up on the valve, which can occur with age as your heart valves accumulate calcium deposits – a mineral found in your blood.
Dr. Steven Weiss discusses advances in heart surgery, including TAVR: Transaortic Valve Replacement.
Signs and Symptoms of Aortic Valve Stenosis
Many people who live with aortic valve stenosis may not experience any symptoms for years until the condition becomes severe. Once it progresses, signs and symptoms could include:
- Chest pain or tightness
- Abnormal heart sounds, such as a heart murmur heard through a stethoscope
- Shortness of breath
- Fainting, dizziness or lightheadedness
- Difficulty exercising
If you are symptomatic, you must undergo treatment as soon as possible. Without aortic valve repair or replacement, 50 percent of patients will not survive more than an average of 2 years after they start having symptoms.
Diagnosing Aortic Valve Stenosis
Aortic valve stenosis is most often diagnosed using an echocardiogram, but the following tests may also be recommended by your health care provider:
- Exercise stress testing
- Left cardiac catheterization
- MRI of the heart
- Transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE)
Treatment at the Heart Valve Center at Chester County Hospital
If you are diagnosed with severe aortic stenosis, your provider may recommend surgery to repair or replace the valve. Currently, there are no medications to treat the condition. At the Heart Valve Center at Chester County Hospital, you will receive evaluation by a multidisciplinary team, testing, treatment and follow-up care right in your community. You will also have access to advanced care, including Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacements (TAVR) and clinical trials at Penn Medicine hospitals in Philadelphia, PA.
TAVR is a less invasive procedure for those who are not candidates for traditional open-heart surgery. Penn Medicine is the most experienced provider of TAVR in Philadelphia and one of the largest TAVR programs in the United States, having performed more than 2,400 procedures.