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Aortic Valve Stenosis


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Aortic valve stenosis is a condition that occurs due to narrowing or blockage of the heart’s aortic valve. The aortic valve is the passageway for the blood flowing from the left ventricle into the aorta. The aorta is the major artery that helps blood flow into the rest of the body. When a blockage or narrowing of the valve occurs, it prevents the flow of blood. Thus, the body receives less blood. This causes the heart to pump harder, leading to thickening of the heart muscles.

The heart cannot take this extra load and finally gives up. The blood cannot move through the narrowed valve. This spells heart attack.

Symptoms of Aortic Valve

The symptoms of aortic valve appear only after the pressure on the heart is unbearable. These symptoms include:
  • Chest pain
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart palpitations
  • Heart murmur
  • Heart attack

Heart failure is often the sign of aortic valve stenosis. In infants and children, the symptoms may never appear. If they are seen, they include the inability to feed properly and failure to thrive. Children may get fatigued very easily. Some infants show signs of breathing problems within a few weeks of birth.


What are the Causes of Aortic Valve Stenosis?

The aortic valve is made up of a three thin flaps called the leaflets. These leaflets open and close every time the heart beats. This helps in the flow of blood into the aorta and prevents backflow of the same blood back into the ventricle. This passageway can get narrowed by various reasons. These reasons can include:
  • Congenital Heart Defects

Some children are born with heart defects. This defect can include having born with just one leaflet (unicuspid) or two leaflets (bicuspid), instead of the normal three leaflets (tricuspid). This can lead to problems as the child grows. The blood may leak back into the heart in this case. Thus, requiring valve repair or replacement. The congenital heart defects are mostly a genetic condition.

  • Calcification of the Valves
Calcium can get deposited on the heart’s leaflets with age. This can cause a problem in people with bicuspid aortic valve. The calcium leads to stiffening of the valves, that gradually becomes narrow.
  • Rheumatic fever

People who develop strep throat infection can develop rheumatic fever as a complication. Rheumatic fever can lead to scar tissue formation that can narrow the aortic valve.


Diagnosis for Aortic Valve Stenosis

After your physical examination, the doctor will listen for any abnormal sounds in the heart. Then he may order the following tests:
  • ECG
  • Echocardiogram
  • Cardiac Catherization
  • Chest X-ay · 

Treatment for Aortic Valve Stenosis

Treatment usually includes the use of medications. When medications do not help, surgery is the only option. This depends on how far the condition has progressed. Medications are prescribed in case of mild conditions. Medications include those that lower blood pressure, cholesterol or slows down the progress of aortic stenosis. When the symptoms turn severe, medications are of no use. In this case, surgery is the only option. Surgery includes either of the following:
  • Balloon valvotomy
  • Aortic valve replacement
  • Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR)

Surgery can help treat aortic valve stenosis. However, one is always at risk of irregular heart rhythms. However, one can live a better life healthwise after surgery. Speak to your doctor regarding aortic valve stenosis and its progress in your case. Eat a healthy diet exercise regularly and maintain a healthy body weight. This will help prevent your heart from developing stenosis. Make sure you undergo regular checkups to keep heart conditions in check.

Written by: healthplus24.com, team
Date last updated: Feburary 11, 2014

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