Aortic stenosis is a form of heart disease where the aortic valve is narrowed. The aortic valve is the valve connecting the heart to the rest of the body, and it opens and closes with each heartbeat. The aortic valve can become diseased so that the opening becomes smaller so the heart has to work harder to pump blood to the body.
There are several factors which can lead to aortic stenosis:
- Age-related calcification of the valve
- Rheumatic fever
- Bicuspid valve (this is a congenital abnormality of the valve)
People with aortic stenosis can experience chest pain, fainting, or shortness of breath. These are all signs of severe narrowing of the valve, and should be evaluated. Untreated aortic stenosis for a long time can lead to heart failure.
Aortic stenosis can be diagnosed with an echocardiogram or a heart catheterization. Most people with severe aortic stenosis will require surgery, since there is no medication to treat this condition. Surgery for aortic stenosis is open heart surgery to replace the abnormal valve. Your doctor can describe the operation in detail and discuss the types of valve replacement options available to you.