What is Aortic Stenosis?
Aortic stenosis, also known as aortic valve stenosis, is a cardiac (heart) disorder. This condition causes the narrowing of the aortic valve in the heart. This narrowing affects the blood being supplied from the heart to the other parts of the body.
The narrowing of the aortic valve tends to put extra stress on the heart to pump sufficient amount of blood. This causes the heart’s muscles to weaken eventually and the heart reaches its peak of supplying blood.
The best treatment method for aortic stenosis is to replace the damaged valve.
What are the signs and symptoms of Aortic Stenosis?
The severity of aortic stenosis condition may vary from mild to severe. These are the common signs and symptoms that are seen as the aortic valve starts to get narrowed severely:
- Angina (chest pain)/tightness in chest
- Fainting after exertion
- Shortness of breath after exertion
- Heart palpitations
- Heart murmur
Weakening of the heart muscles leads to heart failure (cardiac arrest). This is signified by fatigue, breathlessness as well as swelling in the feet and ankles.
These symptoms are mostly seen developing over time as the narrowing in the aortic valve worsens. This condition is often discovered during a routine medical check-up due to the heart murmur.
What are the causes of Aortic Stenosis?
There are various reasons that the heart may develop aortic stenosis (narrowing), such as:
- Congenital (birth) heart defect – The aortic valve is made of three flaps, called leaflets, which are tightly-packed together and are triangular in shape. Certain babies are born with less (1 or 2) leaflets or even more (4) leaflets than normal. This condition gives rise to weakening and malfunctioning of the deformed aortic valve and the condition gets worse with time.
- Calcium accumulation in valve – With the passage of time, the heart valves are known to accumulate calcium which leads to ‘Aortic Valve Calcification’. Calcium is readily found naturally in the blood and repeated passage of blood may result in deposits of calcium accumulating on the leaflets of the valve.
- Rheumatic fever – Rheumatic fever is a result of strep throat infection and results in the formation of scar tissue in the aortic valve. This scar tissue results in the narrowing of the valve and lead to aortic stenosis.
- Aortic Valve Deformity – some people may be born with a narrowed aortic valve or they may develop aortic stenosis later on due to less number of valve leaflets.
- Age – This condition is also related to increasing age as the calcium accumulates by this age in the valves.
- Chronic kidney disease – This renal disorder also causes aortic stenosis.
What are the risk factors that lead to Aortic Stenosis?
These are the known factors that increase the risk of developing aortic stenosis:
How is Aortic Stenosis Diagnosed?
- The doctor will initially review your medical history and the symptoms with a physical examination. This will usually involve using a stethoscope to listen to the heart’s murmur as well as abnormal beating of the heart.
These are several additional tests that are required to confirm the diagnosis of the aortic stenosis:
- Echocardiogram – This diagnostic test involves using sound waves to produce an image of the heart. This test helps the doctor to examine the heart and the valves in detail and check for abnormalities and problems. This also helps to determine the severity of the condition and to decide the best-suited treatment for the particular case.
- Electrocardiogram (ECG) – This test uses electrodes to measure the faint electrical impulses given out by the heart. These are displayed as waves on the monitor/printer. This allows the doctor to check the left ventricle for enlargement and thickening that determines the development of aortic stenosis.
- Chest X-Ray test – Thoracic (chest) x-ray is useful in checking the shape and the size of the heart. It also helps to determine any enlargement or thickening in the left ventricle. This test also helps to check for calcium deposits in the aortic valve.
- Cardiac catheterization – This test requires the doctor to insert a small and thin surgical tube (catheter) into the main artery of the arm or thigh and guide it to the heart using x-ray technology. This test helps to check for blockages in the artery that may develop along with aortic stenosis.
- Computerized tomography (CT) scans – This uses complex x-ray technology to produce clear images of the heart and the valves. This is most useful in measuring the size of the aorta and to check the aortic valve in detail.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests – This test uses magnetic fields and radio waves to create an image of the heart which shows the soft tissues clearly. The doctor may also inject a contrast dye into the heart to get an even more detailed and clear picture.
How is Aortic Stenosis Treated?
- Balloon Valvuloplasty – This surgical technique uses a small catheter fitted with a surgical balloon at its end. The surgeon will guide this catheter from the arm or groin into the narrowed aortic valve. The surgeon will then inflate the balloon once it is in place. This inflating balloon causes the narrowed aortic valve to stretch gradually and improve the blood flow to normal levels. The surgeon will then deflate the balloon and remove the catheter. This surgery is most useful in relieving symptoms caused by aortic stenosis in children.
- Aortic Valve Replacement – This is the most ideal form of treatment for severe aortic stenosis. The surgeon will require removing the damaged (narrowed) aortic valve and replace it with an artificial medical prosthesis. This procedure uses the conventional form of cardiac surgery (open-type) method.
- Trans-catheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) – This is another of the chosen surgical methods for treatment of severe aortic stenosis. This surgery uses minimally invasive techniques partially, to replace the narrowed aortic valve with an artificial prosthetic implant. This procedure uses a catheter with a specialized prosthetic-mounted surgical balloon attached to its end. This catheter is inserted into the main artery in the leg, groin or arm and guided steadily to the damaged (narrowed) aortic valve. The balloon in gently inflated which slowly stretches the narrowed valve in the heart. Once the artificial valve is in place the surgeon will gently remove the catheter with the deflated balloon in it.
- Surgical Valvuloplasty – In very rare cases, the surgeon may use surgical method instead of the balloon for performing a Valvuloplasty, especially in infants and newborns with fused leaflets of the valve.
In case of mild aortic stenosis (narrowing) the condition can be treated successfully using non-surgical methods such as medication. However, the severe form of aortic stenosis will require a surgical procedure to either repair the damaged valve or to replace it with an artificial prosthesis in order to restore normal blood flow.
There are several surgical treatment methods available for treating aortic stenosis, such as:
Why choose Travcure for Aortic Stenosis Treatment in India?
Travcure is the leading medical tourism service provider today. It is known to provide the best and most affordable treatment package in India. Travcure is well-connected to the world’s largest network of global-class hospitals and clinics that are advanced and highly-modern. Travcure offers every patient from abroad the best and most effective aortic stenosis treatment package that ensures success and affordability as well.