Aortic stenosis is a heart condition in which the aortic valve is abnormal, restricting blood flow from the left ventricle to the aorta.
As a result, there is increased pressure in the left ventricle to compensate for this restriction so that enough blood flows to the rest of the body. This pressure overload causes the left ventricle to increase thickness in the walls, or hypertrophy.
Aortic Stenosis Causes
Aortic stenosis causes include:
- Congenital aortic stenosis
- In patients whose valve has only two leaflets instead of three
- Rheumatic aortic stenosis
- In patients with a history of rheumatic fever
- Senile calcific aortic stenosis
- From degeneration and calcium deposits on the valve
Symptoms of Aortic Stenosis
Patients with these symptoms may have aortic stenosis:
- Chest pain; 50 percent of patients with this symptom die within five years of onset unless the valve is replaced.
- Fainting spell with exercise
- Patients with this symptom die within 2-3 years of onset unless the valve is replaced.
- Heart failure
- Symptoms include shortness of breath on exertion, while lying flat, or that causes you to wake up at night. Patients with this symptom die within 1-2 years of onset unless the valve is replaced.
Diagnosis of Aortic Stenosis
Your UT Southwestern Medical Center doctor will use several tests to determine the problem. Common diagnostic tests include:
- Cardiac catheterization
- Used for diagnosis and to determine the severity of the disease by measuring pressure gradient across valve
- Chest X-ray
- May be able to see calcification of the aortic valve when heart size is normal
- Estimates the degree of stenosis and left ventricle function
- To evaluate for left ventricle hypertrophy
- Physical examination
- A systolic “crescendo-decrescendo” murmur heard on a stethoscope exam
Treatment Options for Aortic Stenosis
Aortic stenosis treatments include:
- Aortic valve replacement
- In patients with symptoms and increased pressure gradient
- Balloon valvuloplasty
- To increase valve size, used for temporary relief
- Diuretics and digitalis (for temporary relief only)
Request an Appointment
For an appointment at UT Southwestern's facilities in Dallas or for more information about our aortic stenosis services, request an appointment or call 214-645-8300.