Managing and Treating Aortic Stenosis
Aortic stenosis (AS) is a condition that makes the aortic valve narrow and stiff. As a result, the heart has to work harder in pumping blood into the aorta than it normally does. There are many causes of AS including calcium buildup, congenital heart defect, and rheumatic fever. People with AS will experience symptoms such as chest pain, severe tiredness, fast heartbeat, dizziness, and shortness of breath. Keep reading to learn more about AS:
Healthcare providers will ask about the signs and symptoms and listen to the patient’s heartbeat. They will ask the patient if they previously suffer from strep throat or rheumatic fever. The patient may have to undergo tests such as blood tests, an EKG, a chest X-ray, cardiac catheterization, an echocardiogram, and a stress test.
Below are the common treatment options for aortic stenosis:
- Valve replacement. This is the primary treatment for AS. This surgery is meant to remove part or all of the aortic valve and replacing it with a new one. A valve replacement surgery may be done as open-heart procedure or by replacing the valve by placing a catheter through a vessel in the groin area.
- Balloon valvuloplasty. This approach helps widen the aortic valve and let the blood flow through easier. It is done by inserting a catheter with a balloon on the tip through a small incision in the arm or groin. A blood vessel guides the catheter through and into the patient’s left atrium near the aortic valve. Once inflated, the balloon will stretch the valve opening.
Managing the Symptoms of AS
Patients with AS should limit their strenuous activities. These activities will make the heart work too hard. Patients must ask their doctor about the activities they can safely perform. Also, they must take medications as directed by their physician. They may be prescribed with medications to lower their blood pressure or those that help the heart’s rhythm.
Aortic stenosis can be prevented by managing other health conditions such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. Also, it is important to maintain a healthy weight. Obesity and being overweight can increase the risk of high blood pressure and coronary artery disease that can make the symptoms of AS worse. Eating heart-healthy foods such as whole grains, vegetables, and fruits every day is also recommended. Intake of salt and high-fat foods must be limited.