Aortic Stenosis

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:

Angina
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
Echocardiography
Estimates the degree of stenosis and left ventricle function
EKG
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
Medications
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.