Everything You Should Know about Aortic Stenosis

44195495 - aortic stenosisAortic stenosis is a serious and dangerous problem, but most people don’t know how to recognize the signs when they arise. Even if you don’t see yourself as being at high risk of heart problems, you might still have the unpleasant surprise of coping with aortic stenosis in the future. The more you understand about it, the better prepared you can be.

What is Aortic Stenosis?

Aortic stenosis relates to the aortic valve of the heart, which controls blood flow to the rest of the body. A critical component of successful blood flow is the ability of the aortic valve to open wide and close tight. Most valves can open to the size of a nickel when the heart pumps, then close tight as soon as the heart relaxes. This is supposed to occur every second of every day, day in and day out, without any conscious effort from the brain. However, when aortic stenosis occurs, the valve’s opening might shrink down the size of the head of a golf tee instead of a nickel. It’s often calcium buildup that causes the shrinkage.

The narrower the aortic valve, the harder the left side of the heart is forced to work to pump blood through the body. To accommodate to such hard work, the left side of the heart grows larger, which can lead to a dangerous type of enlargement called left ventricular hypertrophy. Eventually, the heart becomes weaker and succumbs to heart failure when too little oxygen-rich blood is spread through the body.

Signs and Symptoms

Like many other heart problems, aortic stenosis can be identified by fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness, and chest pain. If you are experiencing these symptoms to a chronic degree, it means your aortic stenosis has become severe and requires medical attention to prevent sudden death. Considering that the risk of sudden death from aortic stenosis rises from 1 percent to 34 percent once symptoms develop, medical attention must occur immediately! You may need an aortic valve replacement, which is no longer an open heart procedure.