Aortic stenosis is the narrowing of the opening in the aortic heart valve that results in lower blood flow through the valve. Aortic stenosis may begin as a result of the natural aging process, rheumatic fever or an abnormality at birth.
About aortic stenosis
With aortic stenosis, the valve tissue becomes scarred, inflamed or thickened. Calcium may collect on the aortic valve, reducing the flexibility of the valve’s flaps, which open and close to allow blood to flow smoothly in one direction only. As the flaps lose their flexibility, the area through which blood flows is reduced. As it becomes harder to push blood through the valve, the muscles of the heart stretch and thicken, leading to an increased likelihood of heart failure.
Symptoms of aortic stenosis
Heart valve disease often occurs with no symptoms and may go undetected. When aortic stenosis becomes severe and symptoms develop, it is life threatening:
- Chest pain (angina)
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty when exercising
Treatment for aortic stenosis
No drug therapy exists for aortic stenosis. However, if you need a procedure to replace a damaged aortic valve, you will get the care you need at the Structural Heart Disease Program at Lehigh Valley Heart Institute.
Aortic stenosis treatment options at Lehigh Valley Heart Institute
- TAVR: Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is used to treat aortic stenosis. With TAVR, your doctor places an expandable valve into your heart via a catheter (tiny, hollow tube). Your doctor inserts the catheter into an artery through your groin. Lehigh Valley Heart Institute performs a large number of TAVR procedures every year. We also offer a variety of replacement valve sizes, allowing us to get the right valves to more people.
- Heart valve replacement: Your doctor replaces a damaged heart valve with a mechanical valve or a biological valve made from heart tissue taken from a pig (porcine) or cow (bovine).
- Balloon valvuloplasty: To treat narrowed valves, or valve stenosis, your doctor threads a catheter with a balloon on its tip through a blood vessel. The balloon inflates to stretch the valve opening. By having the balloon press against the hardened tissue, the valve can open and close more effectively. The balloon deflates for removal from the blood vessel.
Our surgeons work closely with your physician to plan your care step-by-step, making sure you are part of each decision.
Follow-up care after treatment for aortic stenosis
After repairing or replacing the aortic valve, the team at Lehigh Valley Heart Institute is here to help you recover. Rehabilitation is an important part of your recovery. You will benefit from an individualized program of supervised exercise and health education that focuses on lifestyle changes.