Does your heart feel "off" sometimes? Maybe you're getting tired and out of breath when exercising. You're probably wondering about your heart. Are you headed for a heart attack? The heart experts at UVA Health can answer that question. These feelings could be a sign of aortic stenosis.
What is Aortic Stenosis?
The aortic valve is found where the lower left chamber of your heart (left ventricle) connects to the largest blood vessel in your body (the aorta). The aortic valve is like a door that lets blood out of the heart. The aorta moves blood from there out to the body.
Aortic stenosis is when the aortic valve becomes too narrow. It keeps blood from flowing out of the heart and causes pressure in the heart and lungs.
Is Aortic Stenosis Serious?
You could have mild aortic stenosis. This means you don't need treatment. Your doctor will monitor your condition.
Aortic Stenosis Treatment at UVA Health
If you have severe aortic stenosis, you could need:
- To avoid intense exercise
- Medicine to prevent heart failure
If you do need surgery, you should know that UVA Health has very specialized experience and expertise.
Our Advanced Cardiac Valve Center offers a wide range of treatments for heart valve conditions you can't find elsewhere. And, U.S. News & World Report named our aortic valve surgery services as "high-performing," which means we're among the best in the country.
Aortic Stenosis Surgery Options
We insert a small tube, called a catheter, through your blood vessels to the aortic valve. We inflate a balloon through the tube. This pushes the valve open and makes it wider. We then deflate the balloon and take it out.
This lets blood flow more easily through the valve. It also lets your heart pump better. But the valve can become blocked again. This treatment isn't permanent.
Aortic Valve Replacement
This surgery replaces the aortic valve. The new valve may be:
- Totally man-made
- Donated from someone else's heart
- Combination of man-made and animal valve
- Taken from a different part of your own heart
We offer two types of aortic valve replacement.
For an easier recovery, we prefer to go through a catheter to replace the valve. This procedure only requires a small cut. Learn more about transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR).
If we can't use TAVR, you'll need open aortic valve replacement surgery, that goes through your chest.
How Do I Know if I Have Aortic Stenosis?
Aortic stenosis can cause symptoms like:
- Chest pain or pressure
- Uneven heartbeat
- Trouble breathing
You could have no symptoms at all.
Getting a diagnosis requires an X-ray, electrocardiogram, echocardiogram, or cardiac catheterization.