Aortic Stenosis (narrowing of the aortic valve opening) can become a serious problem for patients, especially the elderly. In elderly patients, aortic stenosis is sometimes caused by the buildup of calcium (i.e., mineral deposits) on the aortic valve’s leaflets. Over time, the leaflets become stiff, which reduces their ability to fully open and close. When the leaflets don’t fully open, a person’s heart must work harder to push blood through the aortic valve to the rest of the body.
The prevalence of aortic stenosis increases with age. It is estimated that approximately 2.5 million people, or 12.4% of the population, in the United States over the age of 75 suffer from aortic stenosis.
Severe Aortic Stenosis
Aortic stenosis is a progressive disease which means it gets worse over time. It’s typically measured as mild, moderate, or severe aortic stenosis. As a result of the reduced blood flow, the body does not get the oxygen it needs, which may cause symptoms. If a patient has been diagnosed with severe aortic stenosis and is experiencing symptoms, it can be life-threatening and may progress rapidly.
Signs of Severe Aortic Stenosis
- Chest Pain
- Shortness of Breath
- Lightheadedness, feeling dizzy or fainting
- Difficulty when exercising
Major Risk Factors
- Increasing age
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
In addition to a physical exam, severe aortic stenosis is diagnosed in several ways, the most common being an echocardiogram, electrocardiogram (EKG), or potentially cardiac catheterization (angiography).
Aortic Valve Replacement Options
TAVR (sometimes called transcatheter aortic valve implantation, or TAVI) is a less invasive procedure than open-heart surgery which allows a new valve to be inserted within the native, diseased aortic valve. The TAVR procedure can be performed using one of many approaches, the most common being the transfemoral approach (through a small incision in the leg).
For additional information – download an informational brochure.