Valve disease can develop due to various factors such as congenital heart defect (i.e. bicuspid aortic valve), rheumatic fever, or radiation therapy.
However, in Malaysia, aortic stenosis is prevalent among the elderly. The ageing process can lead to an excess deposit of calcium which hardens the valve flaps. This can prevent the flaps from opening and closing properly, restricting the ability of the heart to pump sufficient amounts of blood to the rest of the body.
How Aortic Stenosis Progresses
Aortic stenosis can be either mild, moderate, or severe. Only your doctor can determine the stage of the disease, and it all depends on when the disease was detected and the extent of the damage to the aortic valve.
Those with mild and moderate aortic stenosis may not even be aware that they have a damaged heart. During these early stages of the disease, the decrease in blood flow may not be pronounced and thus symptoms are not immediately obvious.
However, since aortic stenosis is a progressive disease, the condition only worsens with time. Eventually, the heart muscles weaken from having to exert more force to circulate blood throughout the body. This happens because as the flaps stiffen even more, the opening of the aortic valve becomes narrower, making it harder for the heart to pump blood through the narrowed valve to deliver the needed amount of oxygen to the entire body.
Aortic stenosis can be life-threatening if left to the severe stage without any medical intervention. Symptoms of severe aortic stenosis may include breathlessness or tiredness. As such, it’s critical to seek professional medical care when these symptoms are present.
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