Aortic Valve Stenosis

The opening between the left ventricle of the heart and the aorta is the aortic valve. The valve normally prevents blood from flowing back into the heart while allowing blood to flow freely away from the heart. If the valve opening is narrowed for any reason, aortic valve stenosis will result, causing the heart to work harder and the walls of the ventricle to become thicker.

The causes of aortic valve stenosis include a congenital birth defect, rheumatic fever, and calcium deposits on the aortic valve; the latter two only affect adults and have become rare due to modern medicine. Other risk factors include old age, chest radiation therapy, high cholesterol and gender.

The most important and prevalent symptoms of aortic valve stenosis are syncope, angina, and dyspnea, also known as S.A.D. If the symptoms are fairly obvious, the stenosis may have progressed to a dangerous level. The majority of aortic valve stenosis diagnoses are made during routine heart examinations, when the patient is asymptomatic. Doctors can identify the problem through variations in the sound of heartbeats and heart murmurs. Doctors may administer diagnostic tests, including echocardiogram, electrocardiogram, magnetic resonance imaging, and a chest X-ray to confirm the diagnosis.

If symptoms are not present, regular medical examinations are generally recommended so a cardiologist can monitor the heart effectively. The goal is to prevent any future complications by living a healthy lifestyle. If symptoms do present themselves, surgical correction is necessary, even if the symptoms are not severe.

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