Aortic valve stenosis occurs when the heart's aortic valve narrows. This narrowing prevents the valve from opening fully, which reduces or blocks blood flow from the heart into the aorta (main artery) and further to the rest of the body.
When the blood flow through the aortic valve is reduced, the heart needs to work harder to pump blood to the body. This will lead to weak heart muscle and if left untreated it can lead to serious heart problems.
Aortic valve stenosis symptoms generally develop when narrowing of the valve is severe. Symptoms of aortic valve stenosis may include: abnormal heart sound (heart murmur), shortness of breath, chest pain, feeling faint or dizzy with activity, swollen ankles and feet.
A physician will perform a echocardiogram to diagnose an aortic valve stenosis. The echocardiogram will help to determine the severity of the defect. The physician may ask to perform a cardiac CT scan to create detailed images of the heart and heart valves. This may be used to measure the size of the aorta and look at the aortic valve closely.
Treatment for aortic valve stenosis depends on the severity of the condition. If the symptoms are mild the doctor may recommend to make healthy lifestyle changes and prescribe some medications. If the symptoms are severe the doctor may recommend surgery or by transcatheter techniques.
Surgery options include:
Balloon valvoplasty - A balloon catheter is inserted via an artery and guided to the aortic valve. The balloon is then inflated to push the leaflets apart and expand the opening. This procedure is usually done in adults who are too ill for a surgery as the aortic valve tends to narrow again over time..
Surgical Aortic valve replacement - The narrowed aortic valve is surgically replaced with a mechanical valve or a valve made from animal or human heart tissue. The diseased valve is first removed before replacing with one of the above options
Transcatheter Aortic valve replacement
The diseased aortic valve can be replaced by a less invasive procedure called transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR). TAVR may be an option for people who are considered to be at high risk of complications from surgical aortic valve replacement. In this procedure a catheter is inserted in your leg and guided to your heart. A self expanding valve or a balloon expandable vale is then inserted through the catheter and guided to the diseased aortic valve.