A ‘Silent Killer’ of Your Heart. Aortic Stenosis – What Is It and How to Fight It?

a stethoscope and heart
*Collaborative Post

A ripe old age is often regarded as the age of wisdom, free time and life for pleasure. Yet, such a romantic picture is often outshadowed with heart problems, with aortic stenosis being one of the most common reasons. When first seeing the diagnosis, patients start panicking, which only deteriorates the situation. Let’s study what aortic stenosis is and what treatment for aortic stenosis to use.

What is Aortic Stenosis?

Our body is a perfectly organized machine with all the components being interconnected and interdependent. When one part loses its functionality, it can aggravate and provoke other problems.

Our heart is a vital organ as it pumps blood all over the body, providing it with oxygen and nutrients. Heart sends oxygen-rich blood to the rest of the body through the aortic valve, the aorta, which carries it further. However, with stenosis, this process loses its efficiency.

Due to narrowing of the aortic valve, the blood flow from the heart lowers, which puts pressure on the ventricle muscles, and causes chest pain. As the pressure keeps rising, the blood may back up into the lungs.

Aortic stenosis develops over time, yet, when it reaches its severe stages, it becomes life threatening. The causes are:

  1. Calcium deposits built up in the aortic valve. It is also called calcification and occurs in old age.
  2. Rheumatic fever, which can show its effects after 5-10 years of having occurred.
  3. Congenital anomalies, which causes children to have stenosis, yet it is a rare condition.

How to Recognise Aortic Stenosis?

Arctic stenosis has symptoms similar to other heart diseases, that’s why there should be an appointment with the doctor, to perform tests and define the problem. The first red flags are:

  • Shortage of breath
  • Permanent fatigue and weakness (not simply lack of desire to move)
  • Chest discomfort
  • Dizziness and fainting
  • Palpitation

If any of the symptoms has been noticed, don’t delay your visit to the doctor to get a relevant examination.

How to Diagnose Aortic Stenosis?

The examination includes a multitude of tests, each one complementing the diagnosis.

1.    Physical examination

Physical examination is an informative method to use before starting the whole chain of tests.

With aortic stenosis, patients often experience palpitations (fluttering, racing, thumping, or pounding feeling in the chest) and murmurs. All the noises can be detected and distinguished by the doctor, signaling about the necessity of further examinations.

2.    Tests:

  • Echocardiogram – with the help of sound waves it shows how blood flows through the heart and its valves, and helps to identify weakened muscles.
  • Electrocardiogram – with the help of sensoric electrodes (attached all over the body) shows the heart rhythms and helps to define all the anomalies.
  • Chest X-ray – show the condition of heart and lungs, whether the heart is enlarged, or there is swelling.
  • CT or MRI – provide a more detailed and multi-layered view of the heart.
  • Exercise (stress) test – the patient performs a physical activity, while the sensors reveal the heart ‘behavior’.

After getting all the results, doctors define the stage of the stenosis development, and prescribe a relevant treatment.

What are the Ways of Treating Aortic Stenosis?

The aortic stenosis treatment is a complex approach that includes medical and patient’s involvement:

1.    Medical support

Aortic stenosis can be of two forms – progressive and moderate form, which only requires a regular observation; and severe, which threatens life and requires surgical intervention.

Depending on the valve condition, there are a few forms of treatment:

  • Open heart operation, which involves a full replacement of the aortic valve. It is performed with a mechanical valve, or tissue valve. The choice depends on the biological metrics of a patient. Those who have a high risk of clotting and bleeding will be better with tissue valves.
  • Transcatheter valve implantation, when a new valve is placed inside the damaged one.
  • Balloon valvuloplasty – a temporary measure to ease symptoms, as it stretches the walls of the aortic valve, allowing a better blood flow to aorta.

    2. Personal involvement

Aortic stenosis can’t be slowed down with medication, yet, the healthy habits will improve the overall body condition and strengthen the heart muscles. The recommendations are quite common – heart healthy diet, alcohol limitations, regular physical exercising, quitting smoking, regular checkups.

In conclusion, aortic stenosis is a rather common condition that can occur after 60. It is important to undergo regular tests and examinations to detect the problem of time and decide on required measures. Take care of your physical, and mental health, as it is the only way to preserve it to a ripe old age.

*This is a collaborative post. For further information please refer to my disclosure page.

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