Understanding the Risks of Severe Aortic Stenosis
Once your aortic valve opening narrows due to severe aortic stenosis, your heart muscle will not receive the amount of oxygen needed to function properly, making it too weak to pump blood to the entire body. At this stage, you may experience breathlessness, tiredness and fatigue due to a lack of oxygen. If the condition is left untreated, it can become life-threatening as your body is starved of oxygen.
Severe aortic stenosis can be a risk to your health due to the following reasons:
Routine activities are affected. As the severity of aortic stenosis increases, patients will find it more difficult to perform simple tasks such as gardening, walking, or climbing stairs.
Most people only discover they have aortic stenosis when it has progressed to later stages. By this time, the aortic valve may already have a significant calcium build-up and struggle to function.
When this happens, your risk of heart failure increases significantly. The outlook for severe aortic stenosis is poor if left untreated.
Early Intervention Is the Best Treatment
It isn’t easy to come to terms with the fact that you’ve been diagnosed with aortic stenosis. When your doctor announces this to you, you may feel shocked, confused, frightened, and unsure of what to do next. It is completely natural to feel this way. Getting support from a close family member or friend may be a good first step to make sense of the news and begin the process of planning what to do next.
It’s important to keep in mind that with such a diagnosis, medication alone will not cure the condition. It can only manage the symptoms. Getting your valve replaced is the only effective treatment option.1.
While you may wish to postpone treatment or ignore the condition, that may not be a wise decision since it is a progressive disease and can be life-threatening.
If you start to experience symptoms or have been told that you have heart murmurs or severe aortic stenosis, the best is to reach out and speak to your healthcare professional immediately about your treatment options.
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Baumgartner H, Falk V, Bax JJ et al. 2017 ESC/EACTS Guidelines for the management of valvular heart disease: The Task Force for the Management of Valvular Heart Disease of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) and the European Association for Cardio-Thoracic Surgery (EACTS). Eur Heart J. 2017; 38:2739–91.
Badran, AA, Vohra, HA, Livesey, SA. Unoperated severe aortic stenosis: decision making in an adult UK-based population. Ann R Coll Surg Engl 2012; 94: 416–421