Aortic Stenosis Treatment in Waco, TX
Aortic Stenosis Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment in Waco, Tx: The narrowing of the aortic valve in the heart is known as aortic stenosis. It occurs when the aortic valve narrows and doesn’t open fully which leads to reduced or limited blood flow from your heart to the other parts of your body.
The aortic valve keeps blood flowing from the left ventricle into the aorta. When the aortic valve gets narrowed, it can reduce the flow of blood to the aorta, forcing the heart to work harder in an effort to send blood to the rest of your body.
Symptoms of Aortic Stenosis
Aortic stenosis could be mild or severe. Symptoms generally occur when it is severe.
Symptoms of aortic stenosis may include:
- Abnormal heart sound, also known as a heart murmur
- Chest pain or tightness which occurs with activity
- Fainting or dizziness which occurs with activity
- Shortness of breath, especially during activity
- Fatigue, especially during activity
- Heart palpitations
- Not eating enough, particularly in children
- Weight loss, particularly in children
- Severe aortic stenosis may lead to heart failure
Causes of Aortic Stenosis
When the aortic valve does not open completely or becomes narrowed, it can’t send enough blood to the aorta. The aorta is the main artery that supplies oxygenated blood from the heart to the rest of your body. When the aortic valve doesn’t send enough blood to the aorta, it causes the heart to work harder in an effort to supply enough blood to the rest of the body.
When the heart works more than required, it can cause the left ventricle to thicken and enlarge. Eventually, the heart muscle can get weakened which ultimately leads to heart failure and other cardiovascular problems.
Conditions that may cause aortic valve stenosis include:
Calcium buildup on the valve
Calcium is a mineral that is found in the blood, and as blood repeatedly flows over the aortic valve, calcium deposits can build up over time, resulting in the stiffening of the aortic valve.
Congenital heart defect
Some individuals are born with an aortic valve that has just two cusps instead of three.
Rheumatic fever may cause complications which may result in scar tissue forming on the aortic valve which can narrow the aortic valve.
Risk factors of Aortic Stenosis
Certain factors can increase the risk for aortic stenosis. These include:
- Certain heart conditions present at birth
- History of infections that could affect or cause damage to the heart
- Chronic kidney disease
- Having risk factors for heart disease, such as diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure
Diagnosis of Aortic Stenosis
During a diagnosis of aortic stenosis, your doctor will review your symptoms and medical history. Your doctor will also conduct a physical examination by listening to your heart with a stethoscope. The stethoscope helps your doctor to hear if you have an abnormal heart sound which may be a symptom of aortic stenosis.
A variety of tests may be conducted. These include:
A chest X-ray can help your doctor view your heart structure to know if your heart is enlarged. A chest X-ray can also show if there’s any swelling of your aorta and calcium buildup on your aortic valve.
Exercise stress test
An exercise stress test helps your doctor to know whether symptoms of aortic stenosis occur during physical activity.
A cardiac MRI produces detailed images of your heart. Your doctor can view the size of your aorta and may also determine the severity of your condition.
Cardiac computerized tomography (CT) scan
A cardiac CT scan provides a more detailed cross-sectional view of your heart. A cross-sectional view of your heart allows your doctor to measure the size of your aorta.
An echocardiogram creates images of your heart using sound waves. The images allow your doctor to view how blood flows through your heart and heart valves. It helps your doctor to identify a weakened heart muscle and determine how severe the aortic stenosis is.
This test records your heart’s electrical rhythms. It helps your doctor detect enlarged chambers of your heart and abnormal heart rhythms.
Aortic Stenosis Treatment
Aortic stenosis treatment depends on your symptoms and their severity.
Your doctor may recommend healthy lifestyle practices and medications to treat mild symptoms of aortic stenosis and lower your risk of complications.
Some medications that may help you control your symptoms and lower your risks of complications include:
These medications can help open the arteries more fully.
These medications help to slow your heart rate.
These medications help to reduce the amount of fluid in your body and also reduce the stress on your heart.
Severe cases of aortic stenosis may require surgery to repair or replace the damaged aortic valve.
Surgical options include:
1. Aortic valve repair
This surgery is done to repair a faulty or damaged aortic valve. Balloon valvuloplasty is a surgical procedure to repair a faulty aortic valve.
During the procedure, a doctor guides a flexible, thin tube (catheter) with a deflated balloon at the tip through an incision in your arm or groin into an artery and to the aortic valve in your heart.
Once the balloon is in place, it is inflated to expand and stretch out or widen the narrowed valve. After the aortic valve is widened, the balloon is then deflated and taken out along with the catheter.
The effect of this surgery is not permanent as the aortic valve tends to narrow again after a while.
2. Aortic valve replacement
Aortic valve replacement is a more permanent treatment for aortic stenosis. This surgery is often the best option for aortic stenosis.
Aortic valve replacement involves the removal of the damaged valve and then replacing it with a healthy mechanical valve, a valve made from animals such as cows or pigs, or a valve made from human heart tissue.
Each type of valve has different benefits and associated risks. Your doctor will discuss the benefits and risks of each type of valve with you.
3. Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR)
This is a newer approach and less invasive procedure.
During the procedure, your doctors will insert a catheter with a deflated balloon and a replacement valve through your groin, leg or chest and guide it to your heart. Your doctor will guide the deflated balloon and replacement valve into place. The balloon will then be inflated to open the replacement valve and make it fit well inside the old, damaged valve. The balloon will then be deflated and removed with the catheter, leaving the new valve in place.
What is the most common cause of aortic stenosis?
The most common cause of aortic stenosis in younger people is a congenital heart defect where some children are born with an aortic valve that has only two cusps instead of three. The accumulation of calcium deposits on the aortic valve is another common cause of aortic stenosis in older people.
What are the three major symptoms of aortic stenosis?
The three common symptoms of aortic stenosis are:
- Abnormal heart sounds are also called heart murmurs.
- Chest pain or tightness that occurs during activity.
- Shortness of breath or fainting that occurs during activity.
Is aortic stenosis serious?
Aortic stenosis is serious and can be potentially life-threatening. It can lead to heart failure.
What is the life expectancy of someone with aortic stenosis?
Patients with aortic stenosis can live a normal life but will need to be monitored by a heart specialist. They may require regular office visits and periodic testing. Some patients may have aortic stenosis without experiencing any symptoms and their condition could get worse before being diagnosed. Some patients with severe aortic stenosis die 2–3 years after diagnosis.
Can aortic stenosis cause sudden death?
If left untreated, aortic stenosis can lead to heart failure and sudden cardiac arrest leading to death.
Can you live a normal life with aortic stenosis?
Patients with aortic stenosis can live a normal life but will need to be monitored by a heart specialist. They may require regular office visits and periodic testing.
Is aortic stenosis a death sentence?
Aortic stenosis is not a death sentence. You can live a normal life by undergoing treatment, effectively managing your condition, and being monitored by a heart specialist.
How do I know if my aortic stenosis is getting worse?
You may not know if your aortic stenosis is getting worse unless with medical testing. Even if your aortic stenosis is getting worse, you may still have the same symptoms as some people with mild cases. You may experience some symptoms such as chest pain, tightness, shortness of breath, and fainting. However, your episodes may become more frequent.
Is aortic stenosis curable?
Aortic stenosis can’t be cured. The damaged valve can only be repaired or replaced.
What is life expectancy after aortic valve replacement?
You can live a normal life after undergoing aortic valve replacement. People who have had aortic valve replacement have only slightly lower life expectancy than people without aortic stenosis.