How is aortic stenosis diagnosed?
An echocardiogram (echo) is a procedure that evaluates the structure and function of the heart by using sound waves recorded on an electronic sensor that produce a moving picture of the heart and heart valves. Echocardiogram uses a microphone-like device to transmit and receive sound waves that travel through the chest wall to the heart, and then are reflected back. The reflected sound waves are translated into images of the heart, including the aortic valve, chambers, and
walls. Echocardiogram also is used to calculate the degree of stenosis by measuring the pressure change (gradient) between the left ventricle and the aorta, and to assess thickening of the walls, the pumping function, and the amount of dilation (increased diameter) of the left ventricle.
Echocardiography uses ultrasound waves to obtain images of the heart chambers, valves, and surrounding structures. It is a useful, non-invasive tool in helping doctors diagnose aortic valve disease. An echocardiogram can show a thickened, calcified aortic valve which opens poorly. It can also show the size and functioning of the heart chambers. A technique called Doppler can be used to determine the pressure difference on either side of the aortic valve and to estimate the aortic valve area.
Aortic stenosis is often diagnosed due to the presence of a heart murmur. A doctor may hear a heart murmur or other abnormal noises when listening with a stethoscope. Murmurs and noises are due to blood passing through abnormal valves, or to abnormal movement of valves. There are typical murmurs and noises which occur with aortic stenosis. Sometimes this is detected on a routine examination if you have no symptoms, and the stenosis is mild.
The gold standard for diagnosis is an echocardiogram. Cardiac catheterization is done if there are any questions not clearly answered by the echocardiogram and may also be done for therapeutic purposes, that is, to perform a balloon dilatation or angioplasty. Cardiac catheterisation is sometimes done to assess the severity of the stenosis. In this test a thin tube called a catheter is inserted into the main blood vessel in the top of the leg. It is passed up to the heart. A small device on the tip of the catheter can measure the pressure on either side of the aortic valve. The difference in pressure gives an indication of the severity of the narrowing.
More information on aortic stenosis and other aortic valve diseases
What is aortic stenosis? - Aortic valve stenosis is a heart condition caused by narrowing of the aortic valve. Aortic stenosis is the inability of the aortic valve to open completely.
What causes aortic stenosis? - Congenital aortic stenosis is caused by improper development of the aortic valve in the first 8 weeks of fetal growth. Age related calcification of the valve is the most common cause.
What're the symptoms of aortic stenosis? - Symptoms of aortic stenosis include shortness of breath (dyspnea), passing out (syncope), and chest pain (angina pectoris).
How is aortic stenosis diagnosed? - Aortic stenosis is often diagnosed due to the presence of a heart murmur. The gold standard for diagnosis is an echocardiogram.
What's the treatment for aortic stenosis? - Patients with mild aortic stenosis do not require treatment. Valve replacement surgery is indicated for patients with severe aortic stenosis.
What's aortic valve regurgitation? - Aortic valve regurgitation develops hen the valve leaflets fail to close properly during the heart's relaxation phase.
What causes aortic valve regurgitation? - Causes of aortic valve regurgitation include being born with a defective aortic valve, wear and tear from aging, infection of the lining of the heart.
What're the symptoms of aortic regurgitation? - Symptoms of aortic regurgitation include chest pain, excessive sweating, palpitations, shortness of breath that worsens with exertion or lying down.
How is aortic valve regurgitation diagnosed? - A doctor diagnoses aortic valve regurgitation by hearing a heart murmur or other abnormal noises when listening with a stethoscope.
What're the treatments for aortic regurgitation? - Medicines to improve the pumping action of the heart may be given to reduce the severity of the regurgitation. Valve replacement surgery is usually recommended.
What is an aortic aneurysm? - An aortic aneurysm is a localized dilatation or aneurysm of the aorta, usually representing an underlying weakness in the wall of the aorta at that location.
What causes an aortic aneurysm? - Most aortic aneurysms occur in the abdominal aorta, the main cause being arteriosclerosis. There is a familial tendency to aortic aneurysms.
What're the symptoms of aortic aneurysm? - Most intact aortic aneurysms do not produce any symptoms. The ballooning of the aneurysm does not cause any symptoms unless it becomes large enough.
What're the complications of aortic aneurysm? - Half of all persons with untreated abdominal aortic aneurysms die of rupture within 5 years. Spontaneous blockage of the aorta can also occur.
How is aortic aneurysm diagnosed? - Aortic aneurysms can be diagnosed from their symptoms. An ultrasound scan is the easiest way to detect an aortic aneurysm.
What's the treatment for aortic aneurysms? - Medical therapy of aortic aneurysms involves strict blood pressure control. Symptomatic aneurysms require surgical treatment to prevent complications.
What's an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA)? - An abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is a bulge in the aorta in abdomen. Most AAAs occur in association with advanced atherosclerosis.
What're the symptoms of abdominal aortic aneurysm? - Symptoms of abdominal aortic aneurysm include a pulsing sensation in the abdomen, and pain ranging from mild to severe.
How is abdominal aortic aneurysm diagnosed? - Because abdominal aortic aneurysms may not cause any symptoms at the beginning, they are diagnosed by chance during a physical examination.
What's the treatment for abdominal aortic aneurysm? - Treatment of abdominal aortic aneurysm depends upon the size of the aneurysm. Surgical treatment of abdominal aortic aneurysm is often preformed.
What is aortic valve disease? - An aortic valve disorder usually does not cause any symptoms in its early stages. Infection on an abnormal aortic valve leads to a disease called infective endocarditis.
What is aortic insufficiency? - Aortic insufficiency is the leaking of the aortic valve of the heart that causes blood to flow in the reverse direction during ventricular diastole.
Aortic valve replacement surgery - Aortic valve replacement surgery is an open heart procedure for treatment of narrowing (stenosis) or leakage (regurgitation) of the aortic valve.