Aortic Stenosis

What is aortic stenosis?

The left large chamber of the heart, known as the left ventricle, pumps blood out of the heart to the human body. There is a door between this chamber and the aorta, a big vessel that supplies blood to the body.This door is called "aortic valve", it prevents the pumped blood from leaking back into the heart. Aortic stenosis occurs when this door is unable to open properly, so that blood cannot be pumped out of the heart. This results in less flow of blood to the body, also the heart has to do a greater amount of work that heart to pump this blood to the body. This results in complications.

What are the symptoms?

The most common symptoms of aortic stenosis include:

- Shortness of breath

- Fainting

- Lightheadedness

- Chest pain

- Trouble breathing while lying in bed

- Swelling of the legs

What causes this?

- Old age is the most common cause of this condition.

- In some people, this door has two leaflets instead of the normal three, and this results in stenosis.

- History of rheumatic heart disease, which is caused by untreated strep throat infection, also increases the risk of developing this condition.

How to diagnose this?

The workup done to diagnose aortic stenosis includes;

1- Chest X-ray: It will show fluid in lungs or an enlarged heart in this condition.

2- EKG: It is a quick test to check the electrical activity of the heart, it can give information about any previous heart attacks or heart rhythm problems, which can result in development of aortic stenosis.

3- Echocardiography: It is an ultrasound of the heart, and gives information about the functioning of the heart valves. It is the best test to diagnose this condition.

4- Heart catheterization: It is a test in which a thin tube in introduced through a vessel into the heart, where we look for blockade of the heart vessels. Catheterization may also be used to perform some calculations pertaining to heart functions. 

Treatment options?

- Mild disease: It is usually managed with medical therapy to improve the patient's symptoms.

- Severe disease:

1- Medical therapy: It is employed to improve the patient's clinical condition and symptoms. It is not a permanent treatment or solution for this problem.

2- Surgery: In severe cases, surgeons will replace the aortic valve with either an animal valve or a metal valve.

3- TAVR: "Transcatheter aortic valve replacement" is a relatively new procedure, using which the aortic valve is replaced without surgery. This is an option for those patients who are too sick to undergo a surgical procedure.