Aortic stenosis – if the aortic valve is narrowed – pumpes less blood through the left ventricle in the aorta. Therefore, the amount of blood that the heart pumpes through the entire body is reduced. The left ventricle expands its muscular wall to squeeze more blood through the valve. This ventricle wall requires more and more blood to provide oxygen to its larger surface.
Initially, there are no symptoms. As the condition worsens, the patient will experience shortness of breath after physical activities. After that, angina pectoris can develop, which may lead to even more difficult symptoms, such as dizziness and unconsciousness. In the end, symptoms of decompensation of the left heart may occur. Shortness of breath will still be present, especially when the patient lies down, so he needs to sleep in sitting position.
Rheumatic fever, which is commonly associated with other heart valve diseases, often causes aortic stenosis. Aortic valve is damaged in approximately 40% of people with heart valve failure after rheumatic fever attacks. If the patient has only that disorder, without any other heart valve diseases, then the disorder is probably inherent. Men are three times more likely to have this disorder than women.
Aortic stenosis often leads to insufficient blood flow to the coronary artery, so there is a greater risk of sudden death due to cardiac arrest. If you do not treat aortic stenosis, the fluid in your lungs will reduce your resistance to infection, and you can get pneumonia.
What to do?
As with the mitral stenosis, you can only find out that you have a damages heart valve by routine medical examination. If you have any symptom of aortic stenosis, immediately contact your doctor who will examine you, listen to your heart, and probably send you immediately for diagnostic tests. The X-ray of the chest will show whether the aortic valve is narrowed or not. The electrocardiogram (EKG) will allow the doctor to evaluate the severity of stenosis, if any. Diagnosis can be later confirmed by other examinations, such as cardiac catheterization, coronary arteriography and ultrasonography.
Self-help: if you know that you have a mild form of aortic stenosis, avoid intense activity; for example, walk, but, do not run on a tram or bus. Be moderate in sex intercourse. Ask your doctor to give you some antibiotics before operation or tooth extraction to protect you from bacterial endocarditis. Go to cardiovascular examination at least once in 18 months.
Diagnosis of aortic stenosis can be confirmed by cardiac catheterization. A catheter (a thin tube), containing an electronic pressure measuring device, is drawn through an accessible artery into the heart. There, it measures the pressure in the left ventricle and the aorta.
Professional help: the only possible treatment of severe aortic stenosis is surgery, and the most common form of surgery is the replacement of the valves. As with mitral insufficiency, you will get an artificial valve or valve of the transplanted tissue. If the surgeon decides on artificial valve, you will need to take anticoagulants for a lifetime. The prospects for complete healing are basically the same as in other heart valve defects.